The latest figures released from the Home Office in October 2014 show that there were just under 2000 Disability hate crimes in England and Wales in 2013/14, an increase of 8%. It is not clear what is the cause of the increase. It may be that police are identifying and recording Disability hate crime more accurately. It could also be due to Disabled People being more aware that they should report these types of offences to the police. Some argue that the portrayal of Disabled People as ‘benefits scroungers’ in the media has adversely affected society’s perception of Disabled People.
Whatever the cause, it was an apt time for SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living and Hampshire County Council to co-host an event on hate crime. The event brought together a wide range of stakeholders interested in tackling hate crime. The event was particularly positive as people affected by all types of hate crime (race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, transgender, traveller community) participated. This meant there was a wide range of experiences and viewpoints in which to draw upon.
In addition to the affected communities themselves, representatives from other agencies such as the police, local authority, housing associations and Crown Prosecution Service were also present to give their views on tackling hate crime.
Some of the common themes from the event were the importance of education particularly for young people to understand the negative effects of name calling, intimidation on people who are from a ‘minority’ group. Communities need to know how they report hate crime and how it will be investigated. People need to have confidence that the issue will be taken seriously and other stakeholder agencies need to know how to proceed if hate crimes are reported to them.
In summary, the event was a useful opportunity for everyone to think about how we need to all work in partnership to tackle hate crime and how that will improve all our communities for the better.
SPECTRUM will be producing a full report on the day shortly, which will be available on the website.