New research by a leading disabled activist has uncovered reports of more than 20 violent deaths of disabled people – many of them likely to be disability hate crimes – over just three months.
The report, by hate crime campaigner Anne Novis for the United Kingdom Disabled People’s Council (UKDPC), found reports of 141 offences that appeared to involve targeted hostility towards disabled people.
Of these crimes – which include physical assaults, rape, robbery, torture and arson – at least 21 involved the violent deaths of disabled people.
Some of the reports come from trials of people accused of murder and other serious offences, while others were media reports of how disabled people had died violent deaths and where the perpetrators had yet to be arrested.
Novis said she hoped her report would deliver a “wake-up call” on the extent of disability hate crime, but would also help disabled people’s organisations secure funding for their own hate crime projects.
The report has already been submitted as evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s inquiry into disability-related harassment. A second, wider report by Novis for UKDPC into the extent of disability hate crime over the last three years will also be submitted to the inquiry.
Jaspal Dhani, UKDPC’s chief executive, said the crimes collated by Novis were “only the tip of the iceberg” and showed how much work needed to be done by the government to comply with its duties under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
He said: “I think that if the public became aware of the extent of the problem they would be horrified.”
Novis said she believed disability hate crime was increasing “significantly”, and was even more widespread than described in her report, partly because of under-reporting by disabled people.
Her report is based on “informal research” that draws evidence from online articles, disabled people’s blogs and disability discussion forums, and provides a “snapshot” of reports of disability hate crime over a three-month period from March to May 2010.
Novis called for disabled people and disabled people’s organisations to be given funding to carry out formal, detailed research into the extent of disability hate crime.
She said the targeted hostility experienced by disabled people was being aggravated by the debate around welfare reform, the government’s call for cuts to the disability benefits budget and the media focus on disability benefit fraud.
26 July 2010