PROSECUTIONS for hate crime in the region are higher than anywhere else in England and Wales, evidence that police and prosecutors are “getting it right” according to the solicitor general.

Of all hate crime cases brought before a court in the Crown Prosecution Service Wessex region last year, 90 per cent resulted in a successful prosecution.

Solicitor General Robert Buckland QC told the Journal the figures should give hate crime victims “a significant degree of confidence that the police and prosecution authorities in our area take these issues extremely seriously”.

“They will pursue them thoroughly and will seek prosecutions wherever they can and where the evidence justifies it,” he said.

In England and Wales, 83.4 per cent of hate crime cases end in a conviction, up from 79.8 per cent ten years ago, but the number of cases coming to court has almost doubled.

In 2007/8, hate crimes accounted for 1.3 per cent of the CPS’s total caseload, rising to 2.5 per cent in 2017.

In Wessex 598 hate crime cases were brought to court, and 539 were successful. Wiltshire courts heard 119 hate crime cases, with a successful conviction rate of 86.6 per cent.

Mr Buckland, who is also MP for South Swindon, attended an independent hate crime scrutiny panel at Salisbury law courts on Friday.

At the panel, external members of the community, including charities and support groups for victims of crime, ask questions of the CPS and police on how they are tackling hate crime.

The panel meets regularly to “look at what works well and what could have been done better” so the CPS can apply “best practice”nationally, Mr Buckland said.

“I think it is a very important part of the overall approach to hate crime,” he said, adding that only “constant questioning and review” would raise standards and keep them high.

Mr Buckland said the region had also seen an increase in sentence uplift - when a court can increase a sentence for a crime if it was motivated by hostility towards gender, sexuality, disability, race or religion.

Wessex saw “an encouraging increase” in sentence uplift, with 72.5 per cent of sentences increased last year compared to 57.7 per cent in the previous year.

“This should give confidence to victims that the courts take these matters extremely seriously.”

When asked why hate crimes convictions were increasing, Mr Buckland said: “I think there’s definitely an increased awareness and I’m happy to say people are coming forward who perhaps in the past would have suffered in silence, mainly because they just didn’t think the authorities would respond seriously.”