Plans to tackle hate crime
Friday 18 September 2009
Government publishes hate crime plans as inquest learns of years of abuse against family
The government this week set out its plan to better tackle hate crimes against disabled and vulnerable people. The Hate Crime Action Plan (published 14 September) proposes new laws and policies to strengthen the number of prosecutions in cases involving victims or witnesses with a learning disability or mental health needs.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) must publish a new policy on such cases next month, with further guidance on hate crime prosecutions to follow in December.
Mencap's 'Living in fear' report found that nearly 9 out of 10 people with a learning disability had been victims of hate incidents or crimes. Mencap is gathering stories about hate crime experiences – tell your stories about hate crime.
David Congdon, Mencap's head of campaigns and policy, said the plan is "saying all the right things," but there are concerns that the timescale for delivery is too tight, leaving insufficient time to engage with charities and public sector bodies.
With hate crimes historically underreported, Mencap also called on the police and CPS to collect data specifically on incidents against people with a learning disability.
Car fire victims
The plan has been published as an inquest heard that a woman and her severely disabled daughter were found dead in a burning car following years of abuse from a local gang.
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 jury heard that 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 inquest continues.
Read the government's Hate Crime Action Plan
Get involved with Mencap's campaign against disability hate crime