A Freedom of Information request has shown that recorded hate crime against disabled people has risen by 41 per cent in the last year. During 2013-14, police recorded 1,955 incidents, against 2,765 in 2014–15. However, campaigners claim that the number is just the “tip of the iceberg”, with many offences going unrecorded.
Some estimates suggest that there are as many as 60,000 hate crimes against disabled people every year, but the vast majority are never reported. The Disability Discrimination Act was passed 20 years ago with the intention of giving disabled people the same rights as everyone else. Before the Act was passed, it was legal to turn disabled people away from a restaurant or prevent them from using public transport. Employers could also fire them for being ill.
Today, the picture is very different, but according to research published by Scope, disabled people still regularly report discrimination, with almost two thirds saying they are treated differently due to their disability. Only 40 per cent say that the UK is a good place for a disabled person to live.
Agnes Fletcher, a trustee of Scope, who campaigned for the law to be changed, said: “Changing the law was not just about whether or not there is a case and whether you can prosecute, it was about sending a message that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable.”
Police may still be unclear about what constitutes a hate crime, and charities such as Scope have been working with them to raise awareness. Beth Grossman, Scope’s head of policy research, feels that even more work needs to be done to tackle “low level” negativity towards the disabled. She said: “In our research, we found that 42 per cent of non disabled people don’t know a disabled person.
You might not realise you harbour these negative perceptions because you haven’t had day to day interactions.”
Have you been a victim of discrimination at work or when trying to access goods or services? Talk to us. We are experienced disability discrimination specialists and can give you the expert advice you need. Call 01302 320621 or email email@example.com