In September this year, the Equality and Human Rights Commission released a follow up report on crime conducted towards disabled people, a report based upon the annual Crime Survey for England and Wales. The report follows on from one previously released, where an average of 77,000 hate crimes were estimated to have occurred during the period 2007-08 to 2009-10.
The report states that the total incidence of hate crime in England and Wales has declined at a time when the overall crime rate has also fallen. However, despite the decrease in the incidence of crime overall, crime remains higher for disabled people compared with non-disabled people of the same age. In England and Wales, more disabled than non-disabled people in every age group had experienced crime in the previous 12 months before the study. Similarly, in Scotland more disabled people than non-disabled people aged 16-44 or 65-74 had experienced crime in the previous 12 months.
There had been some confusion over whether this report also indicates a fall in estimated hate crimes from 77,000 in 2009-10 to around 56,000 per year. The EHRC indeed reports an average of 56,000 incidents of disability hate crime committed per year, however, the margin of error in the study is reported as being around 13,000 cases either way. So, rather than giving us an estimate of 56,000 cases per year, the EHRC has simply given us a range between 43,000 and 69,000, with 56,000 being the mean of this range. So, the high-end figure of 69,000 still ties in with its previous study on crime towards disabled people, and the many surveys and polls of disabled people that have taken place over the past number of years.
To clear up any possible future confusion over this report, I contacted the EHRC myself, to clarify what their information actually tells us, and the EHRC kindly responded as below:
"Thank you for your recent enquiry into the above. It would be a misinterpretation to say that the incidents of disability crime have gone down over the time period in question, and the report is quite upfront about this, as you have said.
The aim of the research was to follow up on similar statistical analysis which was conducted in 2013, to see if there had been changes over time. The report faithfully describes all of the findings from this, including ones which were not statistically significant. In line with research best practice, all findings are presented, not just those which demonstrate change of some kind.
I don't think the lack of statistical significance in some parts of the findings mean the study is not relevant. Indeed, the absence of statistically significant change is a finding in itself, suggesting perhaps that there has not been dramatic change in the incidence of disability hate crime - either up or down. Also, some of the findings highlight continued high rates of experience of crime and fear of crime amongst particular disabled groups - young people, for example, and those with mental health conditions. The EHRC believes these are important findings that should be in the public domain."
Firstly, as we can see, the EHRC suggests that "there has not been dramatic change in the incidence of disability hate crime - either up or down". Secondly, young disabled people and people with mental health conditions continue to experience not just high levels of fear over crime, but high levels of crime itself.
I hope that this finally clears up any confusion that may have arisen over this latest round of EHRC figures. As we can see, there has arguably been no real change in the incidence of disability hate crime within the UK for the time period reported, and that information may be important for us to take note of, until more up to date information is obtained.