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  1. ITV Report

West Yorkshire worst place for disability hate crime for second year running

According to new figures obtained by the United Response charity, there was a dramatic rise of 53% in this type of crime between 2017-2018 Credit: PA Images

More disability hate crimes have been recorded in West Yorkshire than anywhere else across England and Wales for the second year running.

According to new figures obtained by the United Response charity, there was a dramatic rise of 53% in this type of crime being committed in the area between 2017-2018 and an increase of 156% from 2016-2017.

818
disability hate crimes were recorded in 2018
314
public order offences recorded in 2018, crimes which include public fear, alarm or distress.

These offences include assault, harassment, stalking and malicious communications towards a victim.

Figure show fewer people are being charged or prosecuted across England and Wales despite a continued rise in reports.

The number of disability hate crimes committed by repeat offenders nationally also soared by 170% in 21 regions over the past three years. One in every 20 offences reported during this time was committed by a repeat offender.

The charity says that while widespread increases in disability hate crimes could in some cases be due to improved reporting efforts, prosecution rates need to be improved.

Just as last year, these figures are deeply worrying. The hard facts are that more and more people with learning disabilities or autism are being subjected to criminal harm and seemingly a smaller proportion of those responsible are being given the punishment they deserve. It is critical that these criminals are brought to justice in the right way but also educated on the hugely damaging impact their mindless and cowardly acts have on vulnerable people. It's clear that not enough is being done to prevent these crimes, in some cases leading to far too many freely committing the same offence again.

– Joanne Silkestone, United Response Hate Crime Coordinator

Police say work is ongoing to reduce the number of disability hate crimes and ensure perpetrators are dealt with accordingly.

West Yorkshire is home to a diverse population, with people from all faiths, backgrounds and disabilities. Residents should be free to live their lives without fear, hatred or intolerance and there is no excuse for such behaviour. We are committed to ensuring that the most vulnerable are safe and feel reassured.

We are now focussing more on outcomes to ensure that those people who are a victim of a crime receive the best service possible and offender behaviour is changed. In particular, we employ specialist Hate Crime Coordinators across districts in order to assist investigating officers in identifying perpetrators, providing after care support as well as engaging with local communities.

We recognise that there is still further work to do and have created a robust action plan identifying areas for improvement from inspections and guidance, as well as best practice from other forces.

– Superintendent Richard Close, West Yorkshire Police