We've covered parts one and two, now we come to what happens once you begin a case against somebody for a disability hate crime. 

If you withdraw from a case after it’s started then the CPS and police will ask you why. They’ll want to ensure you’re not being intimidated, bribed or harassed. From a defendant being charged until the conclusion of the case you’ll get a ‘Witness Care Officer’ whose job it is to look after you, explain how things work and generally keep you informed.

Should you refuse to take part the case will either proceed without you or be dropped. If it’s dropped another disability hate criminal will have escaped justice, possibly to re-offend.

WCO’s come from the ‘Witness Care Units’ forming part of each CPS regional office. The WCU’s assign WCO’s to provide things like transport, arrange to give evidence via video-link rather than open court and ensure you have time to take necessary medication.

They’re also sensitive to mental illness and learning disabilities. The relevant CPS pamphlet can be found online. If you suffer from problems such as Asperger’s questions will be asked in ways giving you the best possible chance to answer accurately and honestly. They may also, perhaps, arrange an intermediary to explain questions and answers to you.

At court, the prosecutor will introduce themselves and answer general queries, just basic details, nothing too complicated.

If the case is delayed they’ll inform you, let you know why and when you should be available to give evidence. Your WCO can also arrange for separate waiting areas wherever possible to avoid being near anybody associated with the defendant.

Nobody can predict the actions of a jury or of any tiny legal technicalities that might crop up during a trial, but the legal system, for all its inconsistencies, contradictions and seeming chaos, is a great deal more accessible to the disabled now than ever before.

After all, they wouldn’t want you there at all if you weren’t thought worth listening to, which is a step forward for us disabled people generally and more consideration than we get outside of a courtroom sometimes. Then again, if that wasn’t the case then we wouldn’t be suffering disability hate crime. It also wouldn’t still be endemic in our society, now would it?

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