On disability hate crime we need a strategy for prevention – Making rights make sense

Good, albeit depressing, to hear BBC 5 Live devote an hour to disability hate crime, with ex Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken McDonald, essentially repeating messages about institutional failure in the criminal justice system that he first made in a speech in 2008, writes Neil Crowther in Making Rights Make Sense.

There has been steady, albeit uneven, progress on recording of disability hate crime by the police since then (often misreported as an increase in the incidence of disability hate crime itself).   But there continues to exist a yawning gap between estimated incidence of such crime (at around 72000 per year) and that reported to/recorded by the police with only around 2.5% (1841) of all incidents recorded in 2012-13.  Of these, less than 1% were prosecuted.

Increasing the levels of reporting, recording and prosecution must therefore remain a central objective in the battle against the hostility encountered by disabled people.  But to rather subvert the title of Katherine Quarmby’s book on the topic of disability hate crime, there is a risk that by only focusing on criminal justice, other institutions and wider society can scapegoat the police and Crown Prosecution Service.  Such hostility may sometimes amount to a criminal matter, but its roots are deeply embedded in prejudices which can be found in all areas and at all levels of society.  The vast majority of this will not be uprooted by the actions of the police and prosecutors who are, after all, dealing with symptoms, not the causes (though as Katherine Quarmby rightly points out, we are still in the dark as to what the motivations of those who commit such crimes actually are due to lack of research).

To these ends a much under-utilised legal tool is s149 (5) of the Equality Act 2010 – the section of the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires public authorities to have ‘due regard to the need to foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it involves having due regard, in particular, to the need to— (a) tackle prejudice, and (b)promote understanding.’

Interested? Read the rest on Making Rights Make Sense.

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2 thoughts on “On disability hate crime we need a strategy for prevention – Making rights make sense

  1. Phill Evans

    It is hardly surprising that such crime is so prevalent when each and every day their Daily Mail and its ilk bombard the breakfast tables of Britain with what are, essentially, hate crimes. The journalists who work for such organs are enablers of hate crime.

    We, disabled people, experience a duality of portrayal in right wing news outlets. We are either plucky and brave in overcoming our lot or we are thieving scroungers and a burden to the community. Often, it seems, at the same time.

    So, pathetic or malignant. Nice.

    Such hate crimes are not the sole purview of ill educated thugs or asocial psychopaths, though. It is a well recorded truth that, through it’s manipulation of the figures this government has chosen the sick and disabled as the scapegoat du jour for its financial troubles. Despite DLA being a not means tested benefit paid regardless of work status we have become the bogey of the middle classes, skimming money from their pockets whilst indulging in such excesses as televisions and holidays. Sometimes, to the disgust of all, we hold down jobs, learn to accomodate our disability and iuse the DLA as it was intended, to overcome said disability. We do that in the face of institutionalised hatred, fear and mistrust.

    The word “workshy” is rarely used but often implied. “Workshy”, “”arbeitshau”
    in German, was I believe the descriptor for those mentally ill or disabled people first sent to their deaths by the nazis in their warm up to the much more famous apocalypse. We will not again go so quietly.

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