The shared CPS and NPCC flagging definition of a religiously motivated hate crime covers any incident or crime which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s religion or perceived religion. In order for a crime to be charged and prosecuted as a hate crime, the CPS uses the legal definitions contained in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (CDA 1998) and the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003).
The CDA 1998 creates a number of specific racially or religiously aggravated offences, each of which has a higher maximum sentence than the ‘basic’ non-racially or religiously aggravated version of the offence. For other offences, the CJA 2003 places a duty on the courts to increase the sentence where the defendant has been convicted of an offence where they have demonstrated or been motivated by hostility towards the victim based upon their protected characteristic. The CDA 2003 does not set a maximum sentence. Sentencing is a matter for the courts and will depend on the individual circumstances of the case and the legislation under which the defendant has been convicted.