Rise in hate crimes towards people with disabilities

new heroes Athletes will be taking the headlines as the Paralympics get under way in London today, but many people with disabilities claim they are the victim of bullying and abuse,
new heroes Athletes will be taking the headlines as the Paralympics get under way in London today, but many people with disabilities claim they are the victim of bullying and abuse,

The number of hate crimes towards people with disabilities in Northamptonshire increased by more than 50 per cent in the last year, figures have revealed.

The statistics, obtained by the Chronicle & Echo under the Freedom of Information Act as the Paralympics get under way today, show disabled victims of hate crime increased by 53 per cent in the last 12 months. However, disabled groups said the figure still did not show the full picture.

Over the last five years, 188 disabled people have been subjected to hate crime, with recorded crimes increasing from 30 in 2010-11 to 46 last year.

In total, 2,968 hate crimes were recorded by Northamptonshire Police over the last five years, meaning there were more than 11 recorded hate crimes across the county every week. The vast majority of those were racist incidents, accounting for three quarters of all hate crime. Last year, police logged 430 racist crimes, 49 homophobic crimes and six religiously aggravated crimes.

Ellen Clifford, from Northampton Disabled People Against Cuts, believed the reality was that many more crimes were going unreported.

She said: “When you speak to disabled people, the majority have had experiences from bullying to very serious hate crime, yet that isn’t reflected.

“One reason is they don’t feel they will be taken seriously. They are not confident the police officer will know how to communicate with them. There are some police stations that still aren’t accessible for disabled people. People with learning difficulties need support to get to police stations but if the person supporting them doesn’t recognise the seriousness of the situation, then they won’t be able to report it.”

Anjona Roy, from the Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council, said she was more interested in how hate crimes were being dealt with than simply looking at statistics.

She said: “It is how it is dealt with that that is of more interest to us.

“The chief constable has celebrated the fact that satisfaction levels of hate crime victims have gone up and that should be celebrated.

“But we would be concerned there are a number of hate crimes that aren’t actually badged as hate crimes.”