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.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment