Hate crimes against disabled rise by a third


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The Independent Online

Hate crimes against disabled people have risen by more than a third, according to police figures coming just days after Lord Coe said the Paralympics had shifted attitudes and showed "the world the way to treat people with disabilities".

In 2011 2,095 hate crimes were recorded against disabled people compared with 1,559 the previous year.

But charities cautioned that the rise could also be a reflection of disabled people's increasing willingness to report crimes against them.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope, said: "Our polling has shown that attitudes towards disabled people have deteriorated over recent years and that many disabled people experience harassment, hostility and abuse on a regular basis."

Research by the charity last year found that 60 per cent of disabled people had suffered verbal or physical abuse because of their disability.

Neil Coyle, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Disability Rights UK, says: "The figures are disturbing. As we celebrate the greatest ever Paralympics it is vital that we challenge negative stereotypes of disabled people. We agree with Seb Coe that these Games will be defined by the legacy they leave behind.

"The government must seize this opportunity to combat the rise in hostility disabled people are experiencing."

Tom Madders, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: "Disability hate crime destroys lives. Recent media articles labelling those who claim disability benefits as 'scroungers' have arguably contributed to increased resentment and abuse being directed at disabled people."

Overall hate crime, classed as crimes which reference race, sexual orientation and religion, fell by 7.5 per cent between 2010 and 2011.