Bid to tackle 'routine' disability hate crime in Wales

Simon Green Simon Green presented a documentary about the abuse disabled people suffer

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Many disabled people are victims of hate crimes on a routine basis, according to a report.

It says some 100,000 disabled people in Wales were victims in 2009/10, and the four police forces all saw rises in reported disability hate crimes in 2010/11.

The findings come from the Equality and Human Rights commission which carried out a disability harassment inquiry.

The inquiry made four recommendations aimed at reducing harassment.

"People told us they routinely experience different forms of harassment such as name calling, physical violence, bullying and cyber-bullying, sexual harassment, domestic violence and financial exploitation," the report said.

'Inevitable'

"Some disabled people say they just accept it as inevitable and live with it. Others try to rearrange their lives to avoid abusive situations.

Start Quote

I hope more people around the country will be made aware that this is a very real problem and that lives are being destroyed and lost”

End Quote Simon Green Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People

"Often low level incidents escalate and, tragically, sometimes end in torture and death. Everyone we spoke to feels it damages their lives.

"Ensuring the human rights of everyone in Wales are protected is an urgent task. There are unique opportunities to make progress in Wales.

"The Welsh Government has identified tackling disability hate crime as a top equality priority and we have new equality duties which will enable public authorities to prioritise and deliver on this issue."

The inquiry wants leaders to show a determination to eliminate harassment and partnerships that prevent and respond to harassment

It also wants new equality duties to be used to prioritise tackling disability harassment.

A human rights-based approach to safeguarding should be introduced by the Welsh Government, the report adds.

'Brutal violence'

It also wants to see an increase in reporting of hate crimes.

Simon Green, a member of the Bridgend Coalition of Disabled People and a wheelchair user, said: "I hope more people around the country will be made aware that this is a very real problem and that lives are being destroyed and lost.

"Whether it is mimicking and name calling or brutal violence the effect it has on someone already struggling to live with a disability is devastating and if the findings of this campaign help improve or just save one persons live it will be well worthwhile."

South Wales Police figures show there were 379 reported disability hate crimes in 2010/11, an increase of 214 on the the previous year.

Other forces also showed year-on-year increases but in much smaller numbers with Gwent Police receiving 44, up from 37, Dyfed-Powys saw a rise from eight to 16 and North Wales Police went up from 13 to 14.

Dyfed-Powys deputy chief constable Jackie Roberts, the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) Cymru leader on equality, diversity and human rights said: "We welcome this interim report and will carefully look at all findings and recommendations to ensure that we are in a position to address any shortcomings in our practices and procedures.

"However across Wales the forces have been working closely with our partners to address issues affecting our disabled communities and particularly disability hate crime."

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