Leap in disabled hate crimes shows need for Paralympics effect

The total number of hate crimes recorded in 2011 against disabled people

Hate crimes against disabled people rose by more than a third last year, exposing the hostility they face in modern Britain despite the goodwill created by the recent Paralympics.

In 2011, 2,095 hate crimes were recorded against disabled people compared with 1,559 the previous year. Charities condemned the rise as "alarming" and "disturbing" arguing that disability hate crime "destroys lives". But they cautioned it could also be a reflection of disabled people's increased willingness to report crimes.

News of the rise comes just after Paralympic organisers hailed "the seismic effect in shifting public attitudes" to disability sports claiming the Games had changed public perception of disabled people forever.

A new poll following the games found that eight out of 10 British adults thought that Paralympics 2012 had had a positive impact on the way disabled people were viewed by the public.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the 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. We know if unchallenged these low-level incidents can often escalate into more serious crimes. "

Charities have blamed the Government's rhetoric on benefit fraud to justify disability benefit cuts for a rise in public hostility to disabled people.

Neil Coyle, director of policy and Campaigns at Disability Rights UK, said the figures were "disturbing". He added: "An important legacy of the Paralympics is to make sure the Government does not use any stereotypes about scroungers or non-taxpayers to describe anyone who needs welfare support."

Tom Madders, head of campaigns at the National Autistic Society, said: "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 fell from 2010 with offences linked to victims' race, religion, sexual orientation or disability dropping by 3,608 to 44,519, a drop of 7.5 per cent.

Hate crime monitoring began in April 2008 to focus attention on the problem.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence