The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has today circulated new guidance on how it will prosecute hate crime and toughen sentences for offences committed using social media.

Hate crimes perpetrated over Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms will now be treated as seriously as offences committed offline, in recognition of the growth of online crime.

The public statements, which can be viewed in full here, and which have been published following a consultation with community groups, comment on racial, religious, disability, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime.

Alongside the public statements, guidance setting out how prosecutors should make charging decisions and handle hate crime cases in Court has also been published.

A social media campaign with the hashtag #HateCrimeMatters has also been launched to encourage people to come forward and report hate crime incidents.

Alison Saunders, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said: “Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society and that is why it is a priority area for the CPS.”

Ms Saunders also said of the public statements: “These documents take account of the current breadth and context of offending.”

In 2015/16, the CPS completed the highest number of hate crime prosecutions to date with over 15,000 defendants appearing in Courts across England and Wales.

The CPS defines hate crime as an offence where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or shows hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

At Blaser Mills, we have experience representing clients throughout every stage of criminal prosecution – from police stations to the highest Crown Courts.  If you have been arrested or charged with a hate crime, whether alleged to have been committed online or offline, you can contact a member of our criminal defence team here.