Oxford Brookes University to host conference by the Law Commission on Hate Crime as potential reforms for England and Wales are reviewed

Friday, 01 March 2019

Hate Crime web

Are more effective protections against hate crime required? As the number of hate crimes continue to rise, a Law Commission conference hosted by Oxford Brookes University next month (8 March 2019) will explore the legislative improvements needed to ensure victims receive greater protection. It will inform the Law Commission’s research consultation process for this new review of hate crime legislation.

Latest Home Office Statistics for 2017/18 demonstrate that there were 94,098 such offences reported to police in England and Wales – a rise of 17%. This continues the upward trend in recent years whereby the number of hate crimes recorded by police having more than doubled since 2012/13.

In this context, the Government is concerned to ensure that hate crime laws work effectively and are fit for purpose into the future. In October 2018 the Government announced that the Law Commission would complete a wide-ranging review into hate crime.

The Law Commission review launches with the all-day conference which will take place at Oxford Brookes University’s Headington Hill site.
Building on its previous work in 2014, the Law Commission will consider whether characteristics beyond those currently protected – for example sex or gender characteristics and age – should receive enhanced protection in criminal law and on what basis. It will also the legal means by which hate crime is targeted, and whether the current model is the optimal one.

The purpose of the conference at Oxford Brookes University is to scope the current discourse around hate crime. This will include specific offences and aggravating factors in sentencing, conceptual bases for the perpetration of hate crime, and the characteristics that should be protected.

It will also consider victims’ experiences of hate crime and the links between the need to protect society from hate crime while maintaining the individual’s right to freedom of expression. The discussions held and expert opinions provided at the conference will feed into the Commission’s review into the effectiveness of the legislation.

Chara Bakalis Principal Lecturer in Law at Oxford Brookes will be speaking at the event.  Chara’s own research interests lie in the area of hate crime and her current focus is on the regulation of online hate, and on the liability of social media companies – a subject which is now rarely out of the news. She commented:

"We are very pleased to be hosting this Law Commission event at Brookes, and to be able to welcome so many high-profile names from the field of hate crime studies.  The Law Commission's work will be pivotal to persuading the government to make the necessary changes to hate crime legislation in order to ensure the victims of hate crime are adequately protected. I will be presenting my own research which demonstrates the need for targeted online hate offences which properly capture the harm caused by this form of hate speech."
 
Prof David Ormerod QC, Commissioner for criminal law at the Law Commission said:

We want to produce hate crime legislation that is fit for purpose by ensuring that it protects victims and tackles hate crime in all its forms. We are grateful to Oxford Brookes University for hosting this launch event, and we look forward to hearing the thoughts of the leading experts in this field.”