The Crown Prosecution Service are speaking out about the support available to victims of LGBT hate crime in Sussex.
The CPS say for those victims of LGBT hate crime in Sussex, the prospect of a day in court can be a daunting one.
Concerns for victims can range over ‘outing’ or being even being re-victimised.
The CPS believes these fears can contribute to victims choosing not to report these incidents to police.
The service are worried there are victims dropping allegations or choosing not to turn up to court, as some feel that abuse is ‘normal’.
However, over 60% of homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crimes in Sussex result in a guilty plea.
Consequently, the majority of victims and witnesses do not have to go to court.
Nevertheless, the CPS has been raising awareness of the range of options of support avaliable.
Jaswant Narwal from the CPS said:
“We know that sadly homophobic, biphobic and transphobic abuse is still a reality for many LGBT people in Sussex and that is completely unacceptable in today’s society.
“This kind of abuse is not ‘normal’ in any way, but to tackle it, we need people to report it as the crime that it is.
“To do that, the LGBT community needs to feel confident that they can come forward, knowing the CPS will do everything we can to support them and I want to give them that assurance.
“Our prosecutors receive training on the forms of hostility experienced by LGBT people and there are ways we can support victims to overcome the barriers and fears they may have about giving evidence.”
The CPS can apply for special measures such as screens in the courtroom.
These block a victim or witness from being seen by anyone but the judge or jury.
In certain circumstances, where a victim or witness is identified as vulnerable or intimidated, some evidence can be videoed before the trial.
The CPS can also apply for reporting restrictions in exceptional instances.
These limitations can ban public reporting of the identity of a victim or witness.
The service also has the power to ask the judge to ‘uplift’ the sentence of a person who has committed a hate crime.
‘Uplift’ means the abuser could see themselves with a stiffer sentence as a result.