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More than 5,000 disability hate crimes were reported to police in 2018/19, yet few cases result in prosecution, figures obtained by disability charity Leonard Cheshire in Freedom of Information requests have shown.

The latest figures show that violent hate crimes against disabled people have risen dramatically across forces in England and Wales.

According to the statistics obtained by the disability charity, overall recorded disability hate crime is up by 22 percent, from 4,111 crimes in 2017/18 to 5,015 in 2018/19. Just over half of these cases in 2018/19 involved violence and 92 percent of forces reported increasing levels of violence against disabled people.

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Additionally, the vast majority (84 percent) of hate crime cases in 2018/19 went resulted in no charge or caution. Many of these cases were dropped due to lack of evidence or no suspect identified.

In 2017/18, around 82 percent of cases faced a similar fate. Just seven percent of cases received a caution or community resolution in 2018/19, while only six percent could be confirmed as either sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for charging or as having received a charge or summons.

Leonard Cheshire submitted Freedom of Information requests to all 43 police forces in England and Wales. Over half the forces provided full answers and if indicative of national trends, these could put levels of disability hate crime in the region of 10,000 incidents per year, the charity outlines.

A woman who was supported by Leonard Cheshire’s hate crime advocacy service and wished to remain anonymous said: “Our experience [of hate crime] took over our lives. We felt isolated, afraid and alone all of the time.

“We went from being active, independent adults to our children no longer wanting to leave us at home on our own. We were embarrassed to have visitors come to our home because of what would happen.

“This experience claimed many years of our lives [that] we will never get back. [We] were treated like prisoners trapped in our home surrounded by those who wished us harm simply because they hated us.

“This was a very dark period of our lives, leaving us emotional scars which we will always carry with us. Leonard Cheshire was the only ones who offered us help, support and a listening ear and for that we will always be grateful.”

Under existing guidance, hate crimes should be referred to the CPS for a charging decision. The disability hate crime 2017/18 figures from the CPS revealed that while successfully completed prosecutions with an announced and recorded sentence uplift for disability hate were rising, referrals from police were falling.

The charity also found disabled people are facing increasing abuse online, with cyber disability hate crimes rising 71 percent from 201 in 2017/18 to 344 in 2018/19.

Leonard Cheshire CEO Neil Heslop said: “Hate crime against disabled people is significantly up with worrying increases in violent offences.

“Low prosecution levels are unacceptable and disabled people will feel a sense of injustice.

“Government and police forces must overcome barriers to successful case outcomes for survivors and perpetrators must be brought to account. Hate crime is devastating and more advocacy services like the one Leonard Cheshire runs in Belfast are needed to support survivors.”

The charity also continues to warn that with many survivors feeling unable to come forward, many more hate crimes remain unreported.

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