Peers say government must do more on disability hate crime


Disabled peers have called on the government to do more to tackle disablist hate crime.
Lord (Jack) Ashley said in a Lords question that nearly half disabled people are victims of violence, and he called on the government to work more closely with disability organisations to tackle the problem.
Fellow disabled peer Baroness (Jane) Campbell asked why the hate crime murders of Steven Hoskin and Brent Martin had failed to trigger a “root and branch” review of disabled people’s access to justice, as happened with the race hate murder of Stephen Lawrence.
Lord (Brian) Rix, president of Mencap, pointed to figures showing 7,000 prosecutions for racially-motivated crime in 2007-2008, compared with 141 for disability hate crimes.
He suggested the difference was because the police and Crown Prosecution Service took disability hate crimes less seriously than other hate crimes.
Lord West, the junior home office minister, said he was “absolutely horrified” when he discovered how many disabled people were victims of violence.
He quoted “quite awful” figures from Mind in 2007 that showed 71 per cent of mental health service-users had been subjected to a hate crime at least once in the previous two years.
Lord West promised that the government would talk more to disability organisations.
He admitted that the government’s response to the 2008 Getting Away with Murder report on disability hate crime by Disability Now magazine, Scope and the UK’s Disabled People’s Council “took rather longer than it should have”.
But he said the government was now “taking forward” the report’s 40 recommendations, and the attorney-general was developing a cross-government approach to tackling the problem.
He added: “We are getting to grips with these things and we are making a lot of headway. We will get to grips with it.”
Afterwards, Katharine Quarmby, who wrote Getting Away with Murder, said: “It’s disappointing how slow the government has been in taking action to combat disability hate crime.
“However, the action it has taken on other forms of hate crime, such as sexual violence and racial and religious hatred, shows that it wants to do the right thing. We need the government to show it will do the right thing on disability hate crime as well.”

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