Disability hate crime: why an increase should be welcomed

The Association of Chief Police Officers should be congratulated for publishing data on hate crime across England in 2009. A copy of the data, broken down by constabulary area, is included as a Scribd document at the end of this post.

The data shows the following number of hate crimes, by type:

  • Race – 43,426
  • Religion/Faith – 2,083
  • Sexual Orientation – 4,805
  • Transgender – 312
  • Disability – 1,402
  • Total – 52,028
  • Antisemitic (included in previous total) – 703

My professional interest is in the number of disability hate crimes. In the two years ending March 2009, the Crown Prosecution Service recorded 576 defendants being prosecuted for disability hate crime, so the rise to 1,402 is, on one level, disturbing.</p.

However, underneath this figure, and quite counter-intuitively, there should be reason for optimism, because I suspect the increase in the figure can be attributed to disability hate crime being understood and reported more. Though it’s obviously deplorable it happens at all, it’s better that the times when it does happen – and not just murders, but all types of hate crime (including, for example, repeated verbal abuse) – are recorded.

This also points, however, to the fact that disability hate crime is still hugely under-reported in general. For example, take Essex: in 2008/09 there were 4 reported disability hate crimes.

4.

In 2009, there were 16.

Within a population of approximately 1.4m people that’s a preposterously low number, and I don’t believe for a second it’s correct.

So whilst I say there is reason for optimism – because at least the increase in reported disability hate crimes shows that the police and other responsible bodies are starting to get to grips with the issue – there is still a long way to go.

Transparently and openly publishing the data on types of hate crime is a very good start.

(For those interested in this topic, a briefing paper on disability hate crime was produced by the organisation I work for (ecdp).)

Recorded Hate Crime, January to December 2009 http://d1.scribdassets.com/ScribdViewer.swf?document_id=44471876&access_key=key-fwmgfat85mqbdkx2s03&page=1&viewMode=list

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rich_w

Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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