An interesting story in the Daily Mail today
Here a Muslim Graffiti artist (Tohseef Shah) daubed a War Memorial with such gems as 'Islam will dominate the world - Osama is on his way' and 'Kill Gordon Brown' but was not charged with the Religiously Aggravated Form of Criminal Damage contrary to s30 Crime and Disorder Act 1998 but was only charged with "ordinary" Criminal Damage
The difference is more than merely the name of the offence. Ordinary Criminal Damage where the cost of the damage is less than £5000 (as in this case) carries a maximum penalty of 3 months imprisonment whilst "racially or religiously aggravated criminal damage" carries a maximum penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment so the decision by the CPS not to charge the religiously aggravated form of the offence was extremely significant for the Defendant and, in effect, tied the hand of the Court in how they dealt with Shah.
According to the Newspaper report the reason why the CPS decided not to charge Religiously Aggravated Criminal Damage was because
"The CPS said Shah's offence could not be charged as a hate crime because the law requires that damage must target a particular religious or racial group. It said: 'While it was appreciated that what was sprayed on the memorial may have been perceived by some to be part of a racial or religious incident, no racial or religious group can be shown to have been targeted.'"
Now if that truly was the view of the CPS then the CPS clearly did not bother to read and think about the law before making their decision and they certainly had not read my book where I deal in detail with the definition of "Religiously Aggravated" as defined in s28 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 (my emphasis)
28. - (1) An offence is racially or religiously aggravated for the purposes of sections 29 to 32 below if-
(a) at the time of committing the offence, or immediately before or after doing so, the offender demonstrates towards the victim of the offence hostility based on the victim's membership (or presumed membership) of a racial or religious group; or
(b) the offence is motivated (wholly or partly) by hostility towards members of a racial or religious group based on their membership of that group.
(2) In subsection (1)(a) above-
"membership", in relation to a racial or religious group, includes association with members of that group;
"presumed" means presumed by the offender.
(3) It is immaterial for the purposes of paragraph (a) or (b) of subsection (1) above whether or not the offender's hostility is also based, to any extent, on- any other factor not mentioned in that paragraph
(4) In this section "racial group" means a group of persons defined by reference to race, colour, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.
(5) In this section "religious group" means a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief."
Now the Graffiti in question may not specify which religious group it is aimed at but the words "Islam will dominate the world" is clearly showing hostility towards everyone who is NOT a Muslim ie everyone who LACKS Islamic belief. Therefore Shah could, and in my view should, have been charged with religiously aggravated Criminal Damage relying on the "lack of religious belief" definition in s28(5). That is the specific reason why that wording is used in s28(5) in order to be able to deal with people who hate anyone who is not a member of their religion or their particular subgroup of a religion
At the very least the CPS should have charged both offences and run a trial
Lucky Mr Shah