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Increased sentences for disability murders
Tuesday 08 November 2011
Mencap supports government plans to change the law so murders motivated by hatred towards disability carry a sentence of at least 30 years
The Ministry of Justice plans to amend the Criminal Justice Act (2003), so that sentences for murders motivated by hatred or hostility towards disabled or transgender victims will start at 30 years. This is the same as murders aggravated by race, religion and sexual orientation.
The current starting point for disability and transgender hate crime murders is 15 years.
Also, under these plans, the scope of section 146 of the Act, will be widened, so that all strands of hate crime will be reflected equally in the law. Currently, it states that sentences for any offence shown to be motivated by hostility towards the victim on the grounds race, religion, sexual orientation, and disability, must be made more severe. This will be extended to include transgender.
The Ministry of Justice plans to include these changes in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is currently progressing through parliament.
“Mencap welcomes the government’s decision,” said David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy. “By recognising this anomaly in sentencing, and taking steps to address it, we will move one step closer towards ending disability hate crime.
“However, there is still some way to go before all disability hate crime cases are treated equally in law and more must be done to ensure that criminal justice professionals do all they can to make disability hate crime a priority. There are 10 million disabled people in the UK, yet only 1,200 cases of hate crime have been prosecuted over a four year period, compared to almost 50,000 racist and religiously-motivated crimes.
“We hope to work with judges, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and other authorities to ensure that the way disability hate crime is recorded, investigated, charged and sentenced, inspires confidence in the system.”
Find out about Mencap’s 'Stand by me' hate crime campaign