A few weeks ago I wrote a blog highlighting a project by the Taking Flight Theatre Company and Disability Wales. They launched a production designed to educate the public about the sinister issue of disability hate crime. As if to underline the seriousness of this growing phenomenon, a recently published independent report has revealed that disabled people remain worryingly exposed. But the findings demonstrate that it is not just people’s attitudes that need to change.
Three days ago a joint report by the HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate, the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and the HM Inspectorate of Probation published a number of findings which can only give the disabled community cause for concern.
Living in a different world: A joint review of disability hate crime identified key areas where the police and Crown Prosecution Service are failing our most vulnerable section of society.
In particular, it was noted that there is a “lack of clarity and understanding as to what constitutes a disability hate crime”. This confusion is compounded by the fact that the police often fail to consider disability hate crime issues in their regular investigative work. Furthermore, although provisions exist in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 to cater for disability hate crime under section 146, such provisions are rarely considered during prosecution.
In all, it seems that the disabled community has been let down by the judicial system. “In many ways,” the report concluded disability hate crime “is the hate crime that has been left behind.”
In response to its discoveries, the report put forward a number of key recommendations including a single, clear and straightforward definition of disability hate crime. It further observed that disability hate crime should be put on the same footing as other hate crimes, whilst better training is required for police officers, prosecutors and probation staff.
Welcome though these proposals are, the report clearly demonstrates just how far the judicial system has to come before disabled people can start to feel the confidence and reassurance that they so badly need and deserve.