Chief prosecutor’s personal experience of racism reinforces her determination to stamp out hate crime
The chief prosecutor for the south east has spoken about her personal experience of racism and how it has reinforced her determination to stamp out hate crime.
Jaswant Narwal said: “I know only too well from my own experiences over the years what it feels like to be the victim of ignorance and hatred.
“I was born here and I’ve lived here all my life yet I still get comments from people telling me to go home, simply because of the colour of my skin.
“That’s why hate crime is something I’m determined to tackle as no one should have to change their way of life or live in fear.
“I want to get the message across to people that being different is not a crime. We should all celebrate our differences as hating others only starts with hating yourself first.”
Ms Narwal spoke out as the Crown Prosecution Service published new details of how it intends to prosecute hate crime and support victims in the region which includes Brighton and Hove.
The CPS said: “A hate crime is an offence where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or shows hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
“The revised statements cover the different strands of hate crime: racist and religious, disability and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic.
“CPS South East, which prosecutes cases in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, has already put the prosecution of hate crimes as one of its major priorities.
“Between 2014-15 and 2015-16, convictions for hate crime in Kent rose 25 per cent from 234 to 293 cases and in Surrey they increased by 11 per cent from 163 to 181 cases.
“In the same period, convictions in Sussex declined marginally from 300 to 291 cases as did the overall number of hate crimes prosecuted by the CPS in the county although the conviction rate of 86.1 per cent was well above the national average of 83.2 per cent.”
In addition to the public statements, the CPS has also published revised prosecution guidance that sets out how prosecutors should make charging decisions and handle these cases in court.
It recognises the growth of hate crime perpetrated using social media and is intended to treat online crime as seriously as offline offences.
Ms Narwal added: “I hope that the launch of these documents will give people more confidence to come forward and report any hate crime they are experiencing.
“I can assure any victims in Sussex that they will be taken seriously and given the support they need.”
The CPS said that it worked closely with community groups and its Local Scrutiny Involvement Panel, made up of community representatives and members of criminal justice agencies.
They are expected to work together to improve the prosecution process and the service provided by the CPS.
The CPS said: “We are currently looking for members of the public to join the panel, particularly those with a background in representing people affected by issues related to hate crime – disability, racial, religious, homophobic, transphobic and biphobic.”
Anyone interested is asked to email SouthEast.Communications@cps.gsi.gov.uk.