New figures reveal victims of disability hate crimes are unlikely to receive justice; despite the drop in hate crime reports, just 1.2 percent resulted in a charge or summons. This is down from an already “extremely low” 1.9 percent in 2021/22.

Using figures obtained through Freedom of Information (FOI) requests by Leonard Cheshire and United Response to all police forces in England and Wales, the two charities found that just under 11,000 disability hate crimes were reported between April 2022 and March 2023.

The data showed that roughly half of these reports involved violence, and over 1,300 occurred online. While disability hate crime reports are down by 3.7 percent from the record numbers of incidents in 2021/22, they are still higher than pre-pandemic figures.

Across England and Wales, 36 of the 43 police forces provided figures on disability hate crimes. 23 provided further data about outcomes resulting in no charge. Findings revealed “evidential difficulties”, “victim withdrawing”, and “no suspect identified” were the three most common reasons for victims to go without redress.

The police data showed “evidential difficulties” and ‘no suspect identified’ account for more than half of all the reported no charge outcomes.

The charities commissioned a YouGov poll to discover more about public attitudes to combatting hate crime. When asked about witnessing a disability hate crime, 86 percent of the public think people should offer support to the victim if safe to do so. Of those who believe people should offer their support to victims of hate crimes, 76 percent think people should offer to be a witness.

According to Leonard Cheshire, as not all hate crimes are reported, their prevalence is severely underrepresented.

Despite the long-lasting impact of being targeted by a hate crime, the UK Government announced it will not publish a new Hate Crime Strategy that was promised in 2021.

The disability charities are now calling on the government to reverse its decision to merge an anti-hate crime strategy into a wider plan to tackle general crime. The charities have stated that the government must instead focus on developing and publishing a bespoke hate crime strategy, in close consultation with stakeholders and their families

Leonard Cheshire and United Response commented on the findings: “We need to narrow the justice gap between the number of disability hate crimes recorded and the number of offences resulting in a charge. There are real people behind these numbers and once a person has been a target of hate, they can be utterly changed.

“We are asking the government to rethink the plan not to publish a hate crime strategy. If they want to set targets for police responses to crime then disability hate crime should be a key focus, not brushed aside.

“Our research shows people want to help in a safe way. We need everyone to be allies in the fight against disability hate crime.”

The 2023 Euan’s Guide Access Survey recently opened for disabled people to share their views, with a focus on disabled access and the cost-of-living crisis.

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