A disability hate crime is a criminal offence motivated by hatred or prejudice towards a person because of their actual or perceived disability. It is pervasive and a regular feature of the lives of many people with disabilities.
Research by Mencap (Living in Fear, 2000) found that nearly nine out of ten people with learning disabilities had been harassed or attacked within the last year, with 32% saying they experienced harassment or attacks on a daily or weekly basis.
Further research by Mind (Another Assault, 2007) found that 71% of people with mental health needs had been victimised in the last 2 years, 22% physically assaulted and 26% had their homes targeted (e.g. vandalism).
While criminal justice agencies have made progress in improving their responses to disability hate crime, at the Ann Craft Trust, we fear that the responses of criminal justice professionals on the frontline still has much to be desired.
Our fear is that many disability hate crimes are not reported and, if they are reported, are not identified as hate crimes by criminal justice agencies. In addition, victims may not be receiving the assistance they need to give their best evidence, so reducing the chance of convictions.
In 2015/16 of 62,518 reported hate crimes only 3,629 (6%) were disability hate crimes.
Evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights – 2007
In partnership with two other learning disability charities we have given evidence on disability hate crime to the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
The evidence focused on the prevalence and effects of disability hate crime and the responses of criminal justice agencies to disability hate crime. Our evidence also focused on the following areas:
- Right to live
- Right to liberty and security of the person
- Freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse
- Respect for privacy
- Forced marriage
- Equal access to justice – Witnesses and victims
- Equal access to justice – Suspects and defendants