'A tragic example' of disability hate crime
Tuesday 29 September 2009
Police and social services criticised over deaths, as Mencap calls for disability hate crime to be taken more seriously
An inquest has found that a woman killed herself and her severely disabled daughter "due to the stress and anxiety regarding her daughter's future, and ongoing anti-social behaviour."
Mencap has urged the government to take disability hate crime more seriously, and is calling for people to share their experiences, so that the true scale of the problem can be revealed.
The bodies of Fiona Pilkington, 38, and her daughter Francecca Hardwick, 18, were found in a Leicestershire lay-by in 2007. The jury at the inquest heard that Ms Pilkington had apparently poured a 10-litre can of petrol over the back seat of the car before setting it alight.
The family had suffered years of abuse from a gang of up to 16 youths. Despite a 300-yard exclusion zone for the gang, they reportedly threw stones, eggs and flour at the family home.
The jury criticised the police for not dealing with Ms Pilkington's repeated complaints about the gang, and highlighted lack of action by Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Leicestershire County Council.
Betrayed by the authorities
The Home Secretary Alan Johnson told BBC News: "This should never have happened and there are no excuses." The Independent Police Complaints Commission will investigate the handling of the case.
Mencap's chief executive, Mark Goldring, said: "These horrific deaths are yet another tragic example of how a vulnerable young person with a learning disability, and her family, have been completely betrayed by the authorities responsible for their care.
"Mencap believes this should be the watershed moment for disability hate crime, when the government and the police treat all disability hate crime as seriously as racist hate crime. If this does not happen, the 1.5 million people with a learning disability will continue to be victims of abuse and torture.
"How many more defenceless people must die for these incidents to be treated as a crime rather than anti-social behaviour? It's a shocking indictment that it has taken the deaths of two vulnerable members of our society for the authorities to act. We cannot allow this to be repeated."
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