Hate Crime (1)

MQT on 2018-01-18
Session date: 
January 18, 2018
Question By: 
Peter Whittle
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Between 8th May 2016 and 31st October 2017 the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recorded 257 Hate Crime Robberies, 85 Hate Crime Burglaries, 33 Hate Crime Vehicle offences and 58 Hate Crime Drug offences. Can the Mayor give further information on how these offences are recorded as hate crimes?


Answer for Hate Crime (1)

Answer for Hate Crime (1)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  The law is clear and the MPS operates - as do other forces - under Home Office guidance.  Any crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person to have been motivated by hatred based on someone’s ethnicity, nationality, faith, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity must be recorded as such.  Hate crimes can include offences committed against a person, which may include threats, physical assault, harassment and damage to property.  It may also include offences which may not be directed at individual targets such as incitement of violence or incitement of hatred.


Where a victim, witness or police officer considers that any offence is motivated by hostility or prejudice based on the Home Office definition, that offence will be flagged as a hate crime and this is then considered in how offences are investigated and prosecuted.  What is equally or perhaps more important is that this flagging can help ensure that the victim is offered the most appropriate support.


If there is sufficient evidence to prove there is hostile or prejudiced motivation behind an offence, then it may also carry enhanced sentencing at court.  For example, in Hackney, there was an incident of members of the Orthodox Jewish community having their cars vandalised.  They were specifically targeted because of their faith and so this was recorded as criminal damage and flagged as a faith hate offence.


We know both anecdotally from our communities and statistically from reporting that hate crime is rising.  That is why I have made a specific commitment to address this blight on our communities within the Police and Crime Plan.  We must also not lose sight of the fact that we are talking about criminal activity, whatever the motivation, with people who are victims.  Victims of hate crime need to see that the crime is taken seriously, and that it will be responded to by the police and the court.


Peter Whittle AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor, and thank you for that explanation.  Could you just explain?  For example, in my question here, there were 58 hate crime drug offences.  I think the majority of those were for possession.  How would that become a hate crime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Let us say, for example, you were carrying a drug and you were arrested by a police officer who was from an ethnic minority and you racially abused him or her.  That could be a hate crime.


Peter Whittle AM:  I see.  The public have the message that, basically, the MPS are deprioritising certain crimes.  You have talked about robberies and burglaries and what-have-you.  Does that mean that we are now in a situation where, if there is a hate crime element to one of those otherwise low-level crimes, it will become a serious crime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The police have always triaged when it comes to them investigating offences and they will carry on triaging.  If there is vulnerability, if there is a victim, if there is a serious crime, it will be more of a priority than if it is a crime without a victim or where there is less likelihood of somebody being caught and there is less vulnerability.


Peter Whittle AM:  I see.  For example, if there is a mugging in the street and your phone is taken or your wallet or something but there is decided to be a hate crime element to it, something that would otherwise be probably ignored then does not become ignored and becomes a serious crime?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I would be surprised if the police ignored a mugging.  That is probably not a good example.  A better example is if a shed was burnt down.  If a shed is burnt down in a garden, there is no victim, but the police response would be very different if there is a shed burnt down with some racist hatred activity, I suspect.  That is probably a better example because, with a mugging, you would expect the police to respond.


Peter Whittle AM:  On the general point of hate crime in this regard, you did mention there the definition very clearly from the Macpherson report [Sir William Macpherson, The Report of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, 1999], the traditional one ‑‑


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Or, as we call it, the Home Office.


Peter Whittle AM:  All right, yes, but that has been one that we have all gone by, but last year it seems that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Alison Saunders [Director of Public Prosecutions] seem to have expanded this to, if I could just quote, “ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike”.  It would appear to me that, therefore, that original definition seems to have been somewhat expanded.


Could I ask you?  Is that what the MPS is now using as a definition, the one that I have just read?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No.


Peter Whittle AM:  They are not?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The MPS is in charge of arresting and getting the evidence and then, in consultation with the CPS, charging.  It is for the CPS to prosecute.  The definition I gave you is the Home Office one that the MPS is using.


Peter Whittle AM:  If the MPS is using the traditional Macpherson definition, what is your view on this announcement from the CPS?  It does seem to rather confuse the issue.  Where are we?  Is it just a matter as well of expressing, as they say, ‘dislike’, which I think we would all agree is a highly subjective thing?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I cannot comment.  I have not seen the CPS definition that you are reading out.


Peter Whittle AM:  It was very heavily publicised last year.  What was interesting about it - and I do not know what your feeling is on this; perhaps you could tell me - is that it came out without any recourse, as it were, to Parliament or whatever.  It seemed that the definition had suddenly expanded at a time when there was much talk about hate crime.  You are saying to me that that is to be disregarded and the MPS does not use this but use the Macpherson definition?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  The definition I have read out is the definition the MPS uses, yes.


Peter Whittle AM:  Thank you very much.