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The fear and lack of safety felt by victims of hate crime can have a ripple effect on the wider community, undermining peoples’ confidence and security. Did you know that Courts can pass a harsher sentence on perpetrators if the Police are able to illustrate the harm on the community?
The Police can do this using Community Impact Statements (CIS) which can help criminal justice agencies to understand both the prevalence and the impact of hate crimes and make sure this is taken into account during sentencing.
Where hate crime is under reported and the frequency does not reflect the seriousness of the crime, the statement can be used to describe the harm to the community and can include information emphasising the impact of the crime or type of crime on the community.
A CIS will not be appropriate in every hate crime case. This decision to submit a CIS will be made by the Police and prosecutor. However, cases where it may be particularly valuable include:
- serious and high profile cases which have attracted media attention
- cases where the attack is upon a community rather than on a particular identified victim or victims e.g. desecration of a place of worship or cemetery; online hostility towards people on the grounds of disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity
- a community that is being particularly or consistently targeted in an area or locality
- a community that is subject to extensive targeting as a result of national or international events
- a community which faces consistent targeting but which is less well known and therefore a CIS may prove particularly useful or enlightening for police, CPS and the courts.
The Crown Prosecution Service has issued full guidance to the Police and prosecutors on Community Impact Statements and their use in Hate Crime Cases. To access more information, go to the CPS website. Alternatively, if you have been a victim of a hate crime and feel that the CIS may be relevant to your case, talk to you Investigating Officer (IOC).