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 CPSand police will ask you why. They’ll want to ensure you’re not beingintimidated, 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 afteryou, explain how things work and generally keep you informed. Should you refuseto take part the case will either proceed without you or be dropped.

If it’sdropped another disability hate criminal will have escaped justice, possibly tore-offend.

WCO’s come from the ‘Witness Care Units’ forming part ofeach 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 youhave time to take necessary medication. They’re also sensitive to mentalillness and learning disabilities. The relevant CPS pamphlet can be foundonline. If you suffer from problems such as Asperger’s questions will be askedin ways giving you the best possible chance to answer accurately and honestly.They may also, perhaps, arrange an intermediary to explain questions and answersto you.

At court, the prosecutor will introduce themselves andanswer general queries, just basic details, nothing too complicated. If thecase is delayed they’ll inform you, let you know why and when you should beavailable to give evidence. Your WCO can also arrange for separate waitingareas wherever possible to avoid being near anybody associated with thedefendant.

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

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

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