Northern Ireland hate crime legislation to be reviewed

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By Rebecca Black

Northern Ireland's hate crime legislation is set to be reviewed.

The region's Department of Justice has commissioned an independent review of the legislation, to be led by Judge Desmond Marrinan.

It is expected to include a new agreed definition of what a hate crime is.

The review is also set to examine sentencing for hate crimes, whether new categories should be created, and to identify any potential improvements.

The department said the review would additionally examine the potential for alternative approaches to dealing with offenders motivated by hate.

Judge Marrinan will be supported by a reference group, comprising a core number of relevant experts, and a broader forum of key stakeholders.

The review will take place over the next year.

It is expected to submit a written report of its findings by May 2020.

Last year it emerged that racially motivated hates crimes had overtaken sectarian crimes in Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Good Relations Indicators annual updates 2018 said that during 2017/18, 576 sectarian and 609 racially motivated hate crimes had been recorded.

It noted: "This is the first year that the number of racially motivated hate crimes has surpassed that of sectarian hate crimes."

IMAGE: Attacks like those on Poppy Wreaths at Narrow Water have been treated as sectarian hate crimes.

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