MPs call for tougher sentences for 'hate crimes'

MPs are calling for tougher sentences for "hate crimes" committed against disabled people amid concern that they are on the increase.

An all-party group is pressing for such offences to be put on the same footing as acts of violence motivated by race, religion or sexual orientation, which would mean stiffer penalties.

The courts would have to take account of the motive when fixing the sentence. For example, a life sentence for the murder of a disabled person would attract a longer minimum jail term.

Kate Green, the shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, has tabled amendments to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill being debated in the Commons this week, which would ensure tougher penalties. Her backers include Paul Maynard, a Tory MP and Simon Wright, a Liberal Democrat.

Ms Green said the aim was to "put the Government on the spot" to ensure that the issue of crimes against the disabled are taken more seriously. She said a new approach was needed on a much wider front than sentencing.

"There is a growing problem of public hostility towards the disabled," she said. "Public agencies sometimes appear to challenge the victims rather than the perpetrators."

The move follows the tragedy of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her daughter in 2007 after being subjected to 10 years of harassment and anti-social behaviour. The family complained at least 33 times to Leicestershire Police. Although an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission found that the police missed several opportunities to act, four officers were cleared of misconduct.

A study by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the case was only the "tip of the iceberg" because harassment of the disabled was "a serious problem." It found that many disabled people were afraid to report such abuse, fearing the consequences or that they would not be believed.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • 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