Disability hate crime figures rocket across the region

  • Video report by Andy Dickenson

Reports of abusive, online and violent disability hate crimes have risen across the South East, new figures reveal.

The data, which forms part of a joint investigation by learning disability charities Leonard Cheshire and United Response, was released ahead of National Disability Hate Crime Awareness Week.

They found that reports in Hampshire had risen by 17%, reports in Kent by 38% and reports in Dorset by 53%.

Some in the region, who haven't reported incidents to police, say they're still regularly verbally abused.

Ella Glendining is an award winning film-maker. She's never reported a disability hate crime - but says she's regularly laughed at, manhandled and ridiculed.

But the charities today say the statistics are just the 'tip of the iceberg' with far more crimes unreported.

The number of reported online disability hate crimes is likely to scarcely scratch the surface, according to the charities, with 52% of the crimes online last year.

They're asking for cases to be taken more seriously by the police, public and the Government.

A Home Office spokesman said: “All forms of hate crime are completely unacceptable.

“The Government takes this issue very seriously, which is why we published the hate crime action plan which has improved the police response to all forms of hate crime.

“We are also working with disabled people and other disability stakeholders to develop a new Strategy which will be published in Autumn 2021.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council chairman Martin Hewitt told the PA news agency he had not seen the figures, but that any significant rise in people being victimised due to having a disability is “something of course that we need to look at and deal with very, very seriously”.

He added: “I would certainly assure anybody that any hate crime is taken very seriously by policing and we will seek to do everything we can to minimise that victimisation.”