People who commit hate crimes in Sussex are more likely to be convicted than almost anywhere else in the country, new figures have revealed.
Sussex is one of only four police force areas in the country where defendants are convicted in more than nine out of ten cases, according to the annual report on hate crime by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which was published on Friday.
Sussex is second in the country for convictions on racially and religiously aggravated hate crime, with a 92.9 per cent conviction rate, the report found.
The figures also show that the volume of homophobic and transphobic hate crime dealt with by prosecutors in Sussex fell slightly from 45 in 2017/18 to 42 in 2018/19.
Disability hostility crime still remains low, with just 10 cases dealt with by the CPS in Sussex in 2018/19, according to the report.
Hate crimes are where either hostility is demonstrated at the time of the offence or where the crime is motivated ‘wholly or partly’ by hostility based on perceived religion, race, sexual orientation or disability.
Defendants responsible for hate crimes can be given stiffer sentences by the court.
These aggravated sentences can range from extended prison terms to longer community punishments, depending on the crime.
During 2018-19, 80.5 per cent of all hate crime convictions in Sussex received such an increase in sentence, higher than the national figure of 73.6 per cent, the report found.
Frank Ferguson from the CPS said: “Hate crimes are particularly appalling, because they target someone for who they are, be it their race, disability, sexuality, transgender identity or religion.
“They also spread fear within communities when they happen, which is why tackling hate crime is one of our priorities.
“Within Kent, Surrey and Sussex, almost nine in ten hate crime prosecutions result in convictions.
“These figures should help to give confidence to anyone who is a victim of a hate crime to come forward and report what has happened to them.
“In particular, we want to encourage anyone who is targeted because of their disability, as we know this often goes unreported.
“In 2018/19, there were just 50 disability hate crime prosecutions across the whole of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.
“The feedback we hear from those who represent people with disabilities is that abuse, be it online, verbal or physical, is common and we are working closely with those groups and individuals to understand the barriers to reporting disability hate crime and how we can support victims who do come forward.”
In addition to calling the police, anyone who experiences or witnesses hate crime can report it using the True Vision website.
Sussex Police also offers an online hate crime reporting service through their website.
A hate crime is when an offence, such as an assault, verbal abuse, online harassment or damage to property is motivated by hostility towards a person’s race, religion, sexuality, transgender identity or disability.