Fear of hostility could be stopping large numbers of disabled people going out in their communities, says Leonard Cheshire Disability as it reveals the results of a UK national survey of disabled adults aged over 18.
Publication of these findings coincides with the release by the Home Office today (17 October) of latest annual figures for hate crime reported to police forces in England and Wales.
1,609 disabled adults were surveyed in the Leonard Cheshire Disability commissioned research. Around 1 in 3 (30%) disabled adults surveyed said they had experienced hostile behaviour motivated by their disability. Shockingly, roughly the same proportion (31%) said concern about hostile behaviour had prevented them going out in their local area.
Meanwhile, the Home Office figures could be the tip of the iceberg of overall offending rates.
The Leonard Cheshire research found one in four (27%) disabled people who experience crimes motivated by their disability didn't report it to police. Leonard Cheshire Disability runs an advocacy service aimed at helping victims of disability hate crime specifically.
Disabled people often experienced hostile behaviour face-to-face. But the charity's survey also revealed that almost 1 in 10 said their experiences (7%) happened either online or via a messaging app.
"Hate crime can be totally devastating for disabled people and rob them of their confidence."
"Some survivors have been left so traumatised they remain trapped in their homes out of fear."
"Shocking though the police figures are, large numbers of hate crime incidents against disabled people go unreported simply because victims don't know how to report these crimes."
"In some instances, disabled people may think that no one will even listen."
"As well as greater awareness of disability hate crime and its impact - we need more services that support victims recover from their ordeals."
Leonard Cheshire Disability runs a successful scheme in Northern Ireland with the police to support disability hate crime survivors and we would hope to see programmes like this expanded across the UK.
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