Hate crimes against disabled people soar by 40 per cent in a year

Rise in prosecutions comes amid surge in all hate crimes following Brexit vote

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The Independent Online

Prosecutions for hate crimes against disabled people have soared by 41.3 per cent in the last year, new figures have revealed.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), over 2015-16 there were 941 prosecutions for disability hate crimes.

The huge rise in prosecutions comes amid a spike in all hate crimes since the UK’s Brexit vote, which were up 42 per cent over the last two weeks of June compared to the same period last year.

CPS director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders said the rise in prosecutions showed that hate crimes “will not be ignored”.

The CPS said the number of hate crimes it has pursued over the last year has risen by 4.8 per cent overall.

Racially and religiously aggravated crimes account for 84 per cent of all hate crime prosecutions in the UK, and over the last year numbered 13,032 a rise of 1.9 per cent overall. 

There were also 1,469 prosecutions for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes over the last year, the CPS said.

“My message is that a hate crime is exactly that - a crime - and will not be ignored,” Mrs Saunders told the Press Association.

“This report shows that more of these incidents are being recognised as hate crimes, so they are reported, investigated and prosecuted as such.

“It is important that this trend continues and no one should simply think that this abuse - on or offline - will be dismissed or ignored."

She added: “More than four in five prosecuted hate crimes result in a conviction, which is good news for victims.

“Over 73 per cent are guilty pleas - this means that more defendants are pleading guilty due to the strength of the evidence and prosecution case, so victims do not have to go through the process of a trial.”

Anna Bird, group head of policy at disability charity Scope told The Independent: “Unfortunately, many disabled people continue to face negative attitudes - in the playground, in the street, and from employers. 

“Scope research shows that for the most part, these negative perceptions of disability are caused by ignorance and that not enough people know or interact with disabled people." 

She added: “However, at their most extreme, disabled people are specifically targeted because they are seen as different, leading to verbal abuse, violence and harassment. 

“Hate crime is unacceptable and has no place in our society. It is good to see the police and prosecutors taking this issue seriously.”

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