FOUR out of five hate crime prosecutions resulted in a conviction last year, regional figures show – but most offences of that nature will never be prosecuted at all.

Last year, 557 hate crime cases were prosecuted in the North-East, with 459 of those resulting in a successful conviction.

The Crown Prosecution Service has celebrated its 82.4% conviction rate in the region, with the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North East saying the figures reflected a determination to “robustly prosecute” all hate crime cases that pass the CPS threshold.

However, figures show that the number of successful prosecutions represent just a fraction of the hate crime investigations carried out by police forces in England and Wales.

Government statistics released this month reflected a record ten per cent rise in such crimes between 2017/18 and 2018/19, with 103,379 offences recorded – 4,390 in the North-East.

Just 11 per cent of hate crimes recorded in 2018/19 resulted in a charge or summons, according to crime outcomes logged by 26 police forces, including those in our region.

Outcomes published for 94 per cent of the 'hate crime flagged' offences recorded by those forces show that around half of all investigations were dropped due to evidential difficulties, with 29 per cent concluded without a suspect ever being identified..

A CPS spokesman said there was a growing gap between the number of hate crimes reported to police and the number of cases then sent to the CPS for a charging decision, adding: “Prosecutors are working closely with local police forces to understand the reasons for this fall.”

Following a hate crime conviction, prosecutors apply for a sentence 'uplift', which can result in punishments being lengthened and offenders going to prison for crimes which would otherwise not have passed the custody threshold.

Adam Burnside had his sentence uplifted in July, after making racist remarks during a horrific attack on his stepfather.

The Darlington man was sentenced to nine years imprisonment in July after stabbing Paramijit Singh and causing the death of his mother Susan Ward, who suffered a fatal heart attack following the unprovoked attack on Mr Singh.

The judge indicated that he had considered Burnside's remarks to be an aggravating factor, increasing the starting point for sentencing.

Andrew Penhale, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS North East, said: “Hate crimes reflect intolerance, prejudice and discrimination, which is unacceptable in today’s society.

"Incidents are frequently under-reported by victims, who have not always had confidence that their complaints will be dealt with satisfactorily in the criminal justice system. That must change.

“We will fully support victims through the justice process and ensure, where appropriate, that the hate crime element of offences is reflected in sentences handed down by the courts.”