Mencap warns that police changes could undo progress on disability hate crime
Tuesday 19 June 2012
Police and crime commissioner candidates face questions during Learning Disability Week
National learning disability charity Mencap has warned that recent progress on tackling disability hate crime could be undone if new police and crime commissioners do not make it a priority for their police forces.
During Learning Disability Week (18th– 24thJune 2012), police and crime commissioner candidates across England and Wales will face questions from disabled people and their families, who will demand that new police and crime plans include a commitment to tackling disability hate crime.
Candidates will be encouraged to make a statement on how they intend to stand by people with a learning disability, ahead of public elections in November. A number of high profile figures, including John Prescott and Falklandsveteran Simon Weston, have already declared themselves as candidates. Hustings events organised by disability campaigners will take place throughout Learning Disability Week.
The latest figures show that almost 60% of disabled people say that they have been a victim of hostility or violence. Police forces across the UK have been working hard to improve the way that they support victims of hate crime, and in the past four years, both prosecutions and convictions have risen steadily.
To date, 34 police forces have signed up to Mencap’s Stand by Me police promise and formally committed to supporting people with a learning disability and increasing hate crime convictions.
However despite this progress, reporting of disability hate crimeis still believed to represent just a fraction of actual incidents. Mencap is concerned that momentum will be lost if new police commissioners do not make disability hate crime a priority for their forces.
Mencap chief executive Mark Goldring says:
“Hate crime and harassment are unfortunately a daily reality for many people with a learning disability, and when hate crime takes hold, it can have serious and even fatal consequences.
“This year will see huge changes in the way that police forces set their priorities and are held to account. Mencap is calling on police and crime commissioners across England and Wales to stand by people with a learning disability and commit to tackling disability hate crime as a priority, so that we don’t reverse the positive progress that has been made in recent years.”
To find out more about Mencap’s Stand by Me campaign, visit http://www.mencap.org.uk/standbyme
Notes to editors
Events with police and crime commissioner candidates will be taking place across England and Wales during Learning Disability Week (Monday 18th– Sunday 24thJune).
For further information on filming/interview opportunities, or to speak to someone who has experienced hate crime, please contact Pasca Lane at the Mencap press office – firstname.lastname@example.org, 0207 696 6017.
- About Mencap
There are 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability and their families and carers by fighting to change laws and improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want.
We are also one of the largest providers of services, information and advice for people with a learning disability across England, Northern Ireland and Wales. People with a learning disability and their carers can find out more about our services by calling Mencap Direct on 0300 333 111 or by visiting www.mencap.org.uk
- What is a learning disability?
A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability and difficulty with everyday activities – for example household tasks, socialising or managing money – which affects someone for their whole life.
People with a learning disability tend to take longer to learn and may need support to develop new skills, understand complex information and interact with other people.
The level of support someone needs depends on individual factors, including the severity of their learning disability.
Scope public attitudes poll, 2011. http://www.scope.org.uk/news/attitudes-towards-disabled-people-survey
The figures for 2010/11 show that the number of cases referred to the CPS by the police for a charging decision has increased by 147% since 2007/08. In 2010/11, the number of convictions for disability hate crime rose from 141 or 77% of
concluded cases in 2007/08 to 579 or 79.8% in 2010/11. This represents an increase in the number of successful prosecutions over the 4-year period of 311%. Reference: http://www.cps.gov.uk/publications/docs/cps_hate_crime_report_2011.pdf
In 2011, the police recorded just 1,569 cases of disability hate crime. Reference: Association of Chief Police Officers.