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
News
i100
News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices