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Improved Protection for People with HIV from Hate Crime

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NAT welcomes revised guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service

NAT warmly welcome the revision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) guidance which states for the first time that people living with HIV should receive the same protection as other disabled victims of hate crime.  Until recently, it was unclear whether the definition of disability in the legislation that covers this area (the Criminal Justice Act 2003) included HIV. 

NAT have been actively campaigning on this issue since 2008. Working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, NAT raised concerns with the CPS that their disability hate crime guidance excluded people living with HIV.  The stigmatised nature of HIV means it is vitally important that people living with HIV received the same protections as other disabled people from the moment they are diagnosed.  The CPS responded to evidence submitted by NAT by revising their guidance, making it clear that people living with HIV are included within the definition of disability. 
Deborah Jack, Chief Executive of NAT, comments:
“The publication of this revised guidance brings to an end the legal disadvantage faced by people living with HIV who are victims of hate crime. By issuing this statement, the CPS has sent out a clear message that HIV-related hate crime will not be tolerated.”
Nadine Tilbury, Senior Legal Advisor for the CPS, said:
“The assistance of the NAT in providing data and expertise during our review of our legal guidelines on prosecuting cases of disability hate crime was invaluable. We welcome all such help from organisations and individuals and, where it makes a clear case for change or clarification, we will act on it.
“Crimes against people living with HIV which are motivated by hostility towards their status have no place in our society and we will prosecute those responsible robustly and, where there is sufficient evidence to do so, we will apply to the court for more severe sentences.”

The change means that if a person is a victim of crime because of their HIV status, this can now be considered an aggravating factor by the courts, leading to enhanced sentences for the perpetrators of such crimes.  NAT will now be working with organisations that support people living with HIV to ensure they are aware of this recent development and can support people living with HIV that are victims of hate crime.

Notes to the editor:

For further information please contact:

Katherine Sladden
Communications Manager
020 7814 6733

NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.
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