There have been recent reports which suggest that hate crime and crimes against disabled people has increased, which is very concerning, since many of these victims will be the most vulnerable people living in our communities.
Firstly, I feel it is important to define what a hate crime or incident is:
A hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference.
It doesn’t always include physical violence. Someone using offensive language towards you or harassing you because of who you are, or who they think you are, is also a crime. The same goes for someone posting abusive or offensive messages about you online.
A hate crime is defined as ‘Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s race or perceived race; religion or perceived religion; sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation; disability or perceived disability and any crime motivated by hostility or prejudice against a person who is transgender or perceived to be transgender.’
A hate incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.
Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police.
The data collected to back up the statistics which have indicated a rise in these types of crimes and incidents come from police reports and household surveys, such as the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
The true figures will never be known, however, the increase in reporting is helping to show a better picture than before, which will allow for a review on how best to engage with communities to establish where the problems lie and identify and offenders.
The increase in cases of crimes against people with a disability are very disturbing; these are people who, in many cases, are mobile and go out in the community, but they re not able to defend themselves, nor easily get away from any abuse or threat of physical violence.
Recently, a report from HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) also showed that the number of cases of hate crimes were increasing.
There were more successful applications for sentences to be increased following convictions in cases of disability hate crime, which demonstrates that the judicial service is recognising the severity of these cases and aims to make examples of offenders to deter others.
The report, which was produced jointly with HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, has made recommendations for improvement, including better identification and investigation of these types of cases and improved co-ordination between the police and Crown Prosecution Service.
It also recommends that there should be a better explanation to the courts so that the impact is fully conveyed.
Crimes and incidents involving hate are serious; they cause huge distress to victims and can lead to a rise in community tensions.
Reporting hate crimes and incidents is important – not to simply gather better data; it is to review and respond effectively to the reports.
If you have been a victim of hate or disability crime, or know someone who has, you can report it on-line, via 101 (999 if it is happening), or by visiting your local police station or office.
Other ways of reporting are listed below:
A national charity with a free helpline for reporting crime anonymously.
A national project supporting victims of anti-Muslim hate and monitoring anti-Muslim incidents.
Community Security Trust (CST)
A charity protecting British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.
A national charity providing advice and support to members of the LGBT community.