Disability Hate Crime Awareness

 

This project is in conjunction with the Hertfordshire Police Commissioners fund and is aimed to raise awareness of this growing crime.  According to official statistics, this is an increasing crime against vulnerable members of our society.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/551327/EXCLUSIVE-Hate-crimes-on-disabled-rise-by-213

This figure shows a significant rise within a few years of 60,000 estimated incidents in one year with some severe reactions.  However, what is meant and understood as ”hate” crime could be down to ignorance and the need to create more awareness of this attitude towards disabled people.

On a recent Disability Sports Network radio show Disability Sports Network – Showcasing the Ability in Disability, this was discussed with wheelchair user Ashley Halaby.

“An argument broke out when I entered a London bus and a mother refused to remove her child and its pushchair from the disabled area” he explained.  Despite the fact that the child could have been removed and the push-chair folded up to allow his accommodation the woman blankly refused.  Consequently, the Police were called by the driver and the woman was forced off the bus.

Police now keep statistics relating to Disability Crime within England and Wales https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/hate-crime-england-and-wales-2014-to-2015.

More examples

Speaking to other disabled people, we soon discovered other incidents of “hate crime”.

  • Guide dogs users denied disabled a priority seating on buses with prams taking up the space.
  • A mother with a disabled child in a specially adapted pushchair being told to remove the child on board a bus despite her explaining the child was not able to support itself out of its chair.
  • One of our members recently received discrimination by a cab driver as he stood kerbside, with the dog. His partner observed the cab drive slowly past, turn around and drive off.

“65% of people admitted to feeling uncomfortable around disability”  English Federation of Disability Sport 2016

  • Another area of “hate crime” is committed through social media.  When Director Fiona Musgrove received a Point of Light award (Add link to press release for award) for her contribution to blind tennis she received some horrible tweets:
  • “This is a dangerous thing to allow a person without vision to wield a racket on court”
  • What a ridiculous idea to have blind tennis

Our intention

Professor Gavin Clarke discussed the concept of “hate” and “ignorance” in relation to disability and its effect on disabled people with the Chair of Vision 4 Growth recently.  To some people disability is a lower status and perpetrators often portray this when encountering a disabled person for the first time.

Other cultural factors can influence a person’s relationship with disabled people.  This had lead to guide dogs users not allowed into cafes or restaurants, taxis and public areas.

Vision 4 Growth would like to investigate this area further, using case studies such as the incidents above.  Trying to understand why these crimes are being committed and how prevalent this is in our society.  The “hidden discrimination” as it is sometimes referred to affects many disabled people, whether this is not being able to access information, enter public areas prior encounters in the street.  This project will examine these elements through video blogs and real life scenarios exposing how this impacts on a disabled person.

As part of this, we will visit at least 4 schools in Hertfordshire to interact with youngsters to understand their concept of disability and provide information if they are aware of any incidents they may encounter.  This will be through an assembly and workshop agreed by the school.

To get involved with this project, please contact fionam@vision4growth.org.uk or tel 07564 910 651