Young disabled stay silent over hate crimes

Two in three physically or verbally abused, while 80 per cent lack faith in police to act

Young disabled people are failing to report hate crimes to the police because they fear they will not be taken seriously.

Nearly two in three young disabled people say they have been victims of disability hate crimes, such as being verbally or physically abused or suffering threatening behaviour, a survey by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign found. The research, by the campaign's Trailblazers, a 400-strong group of disabled 18-to-30-year-olds, raises concerns that nationally hundreds of attacks on disabled people are going unreported.

Only four out of 10 victims of disability hate crimes reported the incident to the authorities, the survey found.

Reported disability hate crimes in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have been increasing, rising by 20 per cent between 2009 and 2010, from 1,294 to 1,569 incidents.

The group's new report, Under Investigation, found that up to 80 per cent of young disabled people believe that the police do not take disability hate crimes seriously enough. The charity is now urging police authorities to review their handling of disability-motivated hate crime. Over the past year, the UK's leading disability charities have voiced increasing concern over the escalation of disability-motivated hate crime. Today the Minister for Disabled People, Maria Miller, and the Chief Executive of Disability Rights UK, Liz Sayce, will launch guidance on tackling disability hate crime.

The Trailblazers' survey reveals that 62 per cent of young disabled people have been taunted or verbally abused because they are disabled

Meanwhile, eight out of 10 young disabled people who completed the survey think the police do not take disability hate crime seriously enough.

Young disabled people reported their reluctance to report incidents of verbal abuse, spitting and confrontational behaviour, due to the belief that their local police force would fail to take action or that the incident was not "significant enough" to warrant police time.

The charity is now calling for a nationwide initiative between forces to crack down on disability-motivated crime by building links with local disabled groups, providing alternative ways for reporting abuse, and reviewing approaches to recording and tackling incidents.

Bobby Ancil, Project Manager of the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign Trailblazers, said: "It's disturbing that in 2012 young disabled people are still facing these kinds of offences.

"Many of those who tell us about incidents of unprovoked abuse and threatening behaviour have no idea that they have been victims of a 'hate crime' in the eyes of the law.

"People feel that attacks have to be sustained and physical for the police to take them seriously, and that sadly, day to day intimidation and verbal abuse must just be tolerated."

Case study: 'I often faced such aggression'

Becky Oughton, 35, from Lancaster, has limb-girdle muscular dystrophy and uses a wheelchair. She was violently attacked in a nightclub

She said: "I was attacked a while ago and decided not to report it to police as I had no faith they would do anything about it. One evening, I was approached by a stranger who claimed to know me. She and her friends encircled me.

"She started claiming loudly that she had been to school with me and that I wasn't disabled then. Aside from this being utterly untrue, like most muscle-wasting conditions, mine is progressive – I could walk as a teenager but my disability is getting worse the older I get. She lunged at me and grabbed my hair, and tried to pull me out of my wheelchair by it.

"At the time, I didn't think there was any point in reporting it. I faced this kind of aggression so regularly that it didn't seem to be worth bringing it up. However, Lancashire Police has done a lot of outreach work since then. I'm now confident that the next time it happens, people in authority will take it seriously. If the police don't tolerate disability-motivated abuse, then nor do you."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own