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Is disability hate crime prosecution really on the rise?

Victim of bullyingThe CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) announced recently that hate crime prosecutions have risen by 4.7% from the previous year with a 41% increase in disability hate crime prosecutions. This is great news as it means more hate crimes are being recognised, reported, and taken seriously. However, I suspect that disability hate crime reporting and prosecutions are actually still very low.

In my role at Brandon, I deal with disability hate crime as part of the Bristol Hate Crime Services partnership which is now in its fourth year. Hate crime is the term for bullying targeted at a person because of their disability, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Of the few cases I’ve seen go to court, all have received very low sentencing or no prosecution. There can be many reasons for this, but generally it can be harder to prove that an individual was targeted because of their disability. It is especially so for cases where people are befriended with the intention of exploiting them. This is why, as people who work in the social care sector, we need to keep our ears and eyes open.

A person in supported employment with Brandon, told his manager that he was being bullied by a landlord. They both came to me to make a report. Through joint working with Adult Care Services, the victim moved to new housing, that he chose. For the first time in 30 years, he has support and friends, and still says: "I didn’t know life could be like this".

Low-level hostility is experienced by many disabled people, but the recent news report of mass murders in Japan shows that hatred of this kind does exist. It’s important therefore, that we're all aware of how to identify and report it.

If you'd like to know more, you could take advantage of our free training. It can be adapted for team meetings or for groups of people with learning disabilities. To find out more, email me on sarah.howard@brandontrust.org.

Sarah Howard
Project Leader