"Many disabled people do not appreciate that constant name calling, mimicking and bullying which often escalates to more serious forms of harassment and violence are criminal activities. That may be because such behaviour is so widespread as to be considered routine."
Keir Starmer, Queen's Counsel and former Director of Public Prosecutions.
Hate crime, criminal acts (violent or otherwise) committed against people because they stand out as being "different." Religion, skin colour, nationality, age, sexuality and disability are all likely excuses for criminal acts. People endure graffiti, violence, vandalism, confidence tricks, extortion, daily verbal, physical and psychological abuse and so on. Today we're looking at disability hate crimes, people specifically targeted mainly because they're disabled. That isn't to say that all crime against disabled people are hate crimes, they aren't. It would be dishonest to say that they are. But disability either shows vulnerability or implies it, making a favourite target for bullies, thugs, con artists and, of course, those people who really do have something against the disabled in particular.
I've written before about disabled people standing out and being excluded from society. Many people are unsettled by amputees or people bearing obvious disfigurements. Others feel similarly about the mentally ill or those with learning disabilities. They don't like or want our company because we're different, though somebody's appearance or social ineptitude doesn't automatically make them a bad person. Disabled people aren't all saints, most of us don't pretend to be. But we're not all Doctor Jekyll only until Mr. Hyde shows himself. In fact, exploring 'them and us' further, we're actually four times more likely to suffer violent assaults, committed by supposedly 'normal' attackers, than non-disabled people. At least according to NACRO, the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders.
I pulled that figure from disabilityhatecrime.org.uk. Almost all their facts and figures are equally unsettling. 90% of people with learning difficulties in Britain report being bullied and/or harassed in the last year. 47% report being attacked or frightened because of their disability. Of those, 18% were robbed, 35% assaulted and 15% reported being spat on. These percentages together add up to many victims suffering more than one of those things in a single incident.
20% of people with learning disabilities report being attacked at least once every week. 47% don't feel safe in their own home, when they go outdoors or when using public transport. About the only non-depressing DHC statistic is that 76% of disability hate crimes were successfully prosecuted. So what happens if you report a disability hate crime? Where do you come in thereafter? How is the justice system accessible for us?