Many people with a learning disability have experienced hate crime - criminal acts motivated by the fact they have a learning disability. Hate crime is very underreported, meaning people with a learning disability do not get the justice they deserve.
What we asked for
- The law must be changed so it treats hate crime against disabled people as seriously as it does race or religious hate crime.
- Everyone working in the criminal justice system – the police, judges and the prosecution service – must take disability hate crime seriously and apply the full strength of the law.
- The whole criminal justice system must be more accessible for people with a learning disability, so they are able to report crimes, give evidence and get justice like anyone else. Training is key to achieving this.
- Learning disability awareness must be taught in all schools, so children understand why it is wrong to target someone for having a learning disability.
- In the last two years there were 124,000 disability hate crimes (Crime Survey for England and Wales, 2011/12 and 2012/13). Only 3% of these were recorded by the police, and only 1% resulted in prosecutions.
- 56% of disabled people say that they have experienced hostility, aggression or violence from a stranger because of their condition or impairment (ComRes, 2011).
Kelly and Sue's story
In the last two years there were 124,000 disability hate crimes. Only 1% resulted in prosecutions.
Kelly is harassed daily. Police tell her to "just ignore it". Would you?
Kelly and Sue's story
It all started with shouting names and stealing my things. Over the years it’s got more serious. I get nervous, shake and have panic attacks.
I’m Kelly and I’ve been a victim of hate crime. At first the bullies at school used to call me names because I wasn’t as fast as other kids at learning things. Once I went to the park with my brother and they stole my walkman and cassettes from me.
It got worse and worse from that day. Now I’m 41 and I still get called nasty names, now it’s on the street. I try to walk straight down the road, try not to listen to what they are shouting. They follow me home, ring my bell, wake me up and bang on my door.
It causes me stress and makes my blood pressure high. I just want them to stop, it’s not fair.
When I tell the police they just say: “Walk away Kelly,” or “just ignore them Kelly.” But I want it to change. I want people to be nicer to me. That’s why I want to tell the government, because this is serious.
I know that there are lots of people with a learning disability that are suffering from hate crime and nothing is being done - they get away with it because police don’t take it seriously.
Sue (Kelly’s mum): Kelly has been hassled, called vicious names and has come home in distress many times. We report things to the police and she has made video statements. Nothing ever happens.
Hate crime affects all of us. It’s sleepless nights, anxiety, worrying whenever the phone rings, my stomach clenching. Is she ok? Has something happened to her again today? It’s living on a knife edge.
The police, the courts, the judges, the magistrates; everyone should have proper learning disability awareness training because I know they don’t understand what disability hate crime is.
I want to start seeing, real, open education of young people starting from tiny tots, right through to adulthood. Anybody with any difference, learning disability, mental illness, should be accepted just as everybody else is.
This needs to be higher on the agenda, for law enforcement and education. Kelly and all the other victims of hate crime don’t deserve this.