Surge in disability hate crime

Image: iStock

Image: iStock

The number of prosecutions for disability hate crime has leapt by over 40% in the last year.

In 2015-2016, 941 prosecutions were made for hate crimes against disabled people, according to figures from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Hate crime over all – including homophobic, transphobic and racist offences – saw a rise of 4.8%.

“My message is that a hate crime is exactly that – a crime – and will not be ignored,” said Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions. “This report shows that more of these incidents are being recognised as hate crimes, so they are reported, investigated and prosecuted as such.”

The report also showed that four out of five prosecuted hate crimes result in conviction, good news for those wanting to report a case.

However, while the rise in prosecution is a good sign, it is thought that a vast number of hate crimes against disabled people still go unreported.

Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at the learning disability charity Mencap said: “The fact prosecutions for disability hate crimes have risen by over 40% in the last year is welcome and shows intent from the justice system that hate crimes against disabled people will not be tolerated.

“Nonetheless, the ongoing level of hate crime against disabled people is clear evidence of the levels of hostility and negative attitudes that people have to face.

“For too long the bullying, intimidation and harassment of disabled people has not been treated as seriously as crimes against other minority groups. Everyone working in the criminal justice system must take disability hate crime seriously and apply the full strength of the law.

“Alongside this, greater awareness of disability amongst the public is needed to tackle negative attitudes, and must be taught from an early age in schools, so children respect and value all their peers and understand why it is unacceptable to victimise someone because of their disability.”

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