Hate crimes against disabled people in England and Wales have risen a staggering 33% in the last year, per a shocking new report by charity United Response.

The charity submitted Freedom of Information requests to each of the police forces in England and Wales, with 32 of the 43 forces responding. The data showed that the number of disability hate crimes reported to police had risen from 4,005 to 5,342 in a single year, with 2,271 of these crimes being “violence against the person” – acts of violence including physical assault, stalking, harassment, and malicious communications.

Figures released by United Response also showed that sexual offenses have increased by a shocking 117%, with 70 instances occurring in 2016-17 compared to 152 in 2017-18. Arson and criminal damage offenses also rose by 42%, with 302 instances occurring in 2016-17 compared to 432 in 2017-18.

West Yorkshire saw the most hate crimes occurring compared to any other region which submitted its data to the charity, with 536 instances of hate crime occurring, while Gloucestershire and Humberside saw the largest increases in hate crime year-on-year, with a rise of 167% and 132% respectively.

Despite this significant rise in figures, United Response believes that hate crimes are still significantly underreported, and are concerned that people living with learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome or autism may struggle to recognise that they are the victim of a crime, or lack the confidence to report hate crimes to the relevant authorities.

The charity is now working with West Yorkshire Police to train its staff in assisting people with disabilities to provide them with the confidence and knowledge to recognise and report hate crimes.

Joanne Silkstone, United Response hate crime lead, said: “It beggars belief that there are people out there who are targeting some of society’s most vulnerable people and doing them harm.

“This is unacceptable and we all must do everything we can to empower those who suffer this type of appalling abuse and discrimination to speak out.

“Victims must know that they need not suffer in silence. With the right tools, we can help them to report these crimes to the police when they do experience hate crimes.”

Image: Flickr/Chris JL

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