Campaigners attack government over hate crime delays


Furious campaigners have accused the government of an “inexcusable” and “unacceptable” delay in collecting and publishing national statistics on disability hate crime.

The Home Office had been due to start collecting figures from police forces this month. But the start date has now been delayed until April 2011.

Because of the election campaign, the Home Office declined to give a reason for the delay.

But Stephen Brookes coordinator of the National Disability Hate Crime Network, said: “We have been immensely let down by the inactions of the Home Office. It is totally inexcusable and unacceptable.”

Tom Brake, a Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, said: “Once again, the Home Office has proved itself incapable of carrying through with a simple promise.

“It is not going to be possible for us to properly tackle these sickening hate crimes against disabled people until we have standardised recording of them.

“It is unacceptable for the government to be dragging their feet on such an important issue.”

Anne Novis, who leads on hate crime issues for the UK Disabled People’s Council, said the lack of statistics would mean “no strategic high level work to deal with the issue, no appropriate funding, no local initiatives ensured”.

And she said it would be “down to the toss of a coin” whether disabled people would receive appropriate services on disability hate crime.

She added: “To say we have been, yet again, let down by the Home Office does not do justice to the strength of feelings and concerns we have.”

Novis pointed to the government’s hate crime action plan, published last September, which stated: “We will strengthen the evidence base on the nature and extent of hate crime, which will allow us to identify where we need to develop new, targeted policies to take forward our long-term vision.

“This will enable us to monitor the effectiveness of our efforts to tackle hate crime.”

Liz Sayce, chief executive of RADAR, said the delay was “unacceptable” and “severely disappointing”.

She said there were “horrendous” cases of hate crime, as well as day-to-day disability-related crimes, which were making disabled people’s lives “an absolute misery”.

Only last month, Jonathan Shaw, the minister for disabled people, told the all party parliamentary disability group that a Labour government would “ensure a far greater focus” on disability hate crime.

And this week, Catharine Arakelian, the Labour candidate for Chingford, told an election hustings event organised by Inclusion London that her own party’s failure to mention disability hate crime in its manifesto was “clearly wrong”.

She added: “I think it is probably a thing that is not recognised and without it being recognised as actually happening and affecting people’s lives, we are not dealing with it.”

No-one from the Labour party was available to comment.

22 April 2010

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