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In order to charge and prosecute hate crimes, the CPS uses the legal definition provided by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and Criminal Justice Act 2003. The shared police and CPS definition of hate crime is based on the perception of the victim or any other person and allows for case flagging and monitoring as well as appropriate victim support, it does not affect the charge.
This flagging definition comes from the recommended definition in the Macpherson report which was published in 1999 as a result of the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The Macpherson Report found a lack of confidence within communities that hate crime was being treated seriously by the police and Criminal Justice System and recommended that the definition of a racist incident should be, ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’. Putting the victim’s perception at the heart of the definition gives a clear signal that, once flagged as a hate crime, an appropriate investigation will follow and evidence to support the law on hostility will be proactively sought. The definition seeks to encourage victims to report and to increase confidence in the Criminal Justice System.