Courts treat racists too leniently, say inspectors

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The Independent Online

Racists are receiving lenient sentences, Government inspectors warn in a report today, and they call for the prosecution to be given wider powers to refer race cases to the Court of Appeal.

Suggestions that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is failing in cases of race-hate crime will add to concerns raised by a report last year which found the service to be institutionally racist.

Today's findings by the CPS Inspectorate show that the police are less likely to get the charge right in racist crime than in other cases and that too many defendants accused of racist crimes have their charges "reduced inappropriately" by the CPS.

A defendant who faces being charged with a race crime also has a slightly greater chance of having the case dropped compared with other offences.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 there is no power for the Attorney General to refer racially aggravated cases to the Court of Appeal on the ground of undue leniency.

The inspectors say that there is now a strong case to change the law to include racially aggravated cases.

The report finds that prosecutors do not always have enough information to "present racist incident cases in the best possible light".

It says: "In cases where racial aggravation is established ... it is particularly important that the full extentof the psychological impact upon the victim is brought to the attention of the court."