I want to know more about hate crime

It isn’t always easy to tell when someone is the victim of, or even committing, a disability hate crime. It is sometimes mislabelled as bullying, or it isn’t obvious that the victim has a disability.

Any crime should be reported to the police, but if you suspect the victim has a learning disability or autism tell the police – this will help them better understand how to approach the case and support the victim.

Victims of autism and learning disability hate crime

People who have autism or a learning disability can find it more difficult to communicate, and some might communicate non-verbally so have to use other methods of communication.

Imagine someone’s abused you, you’re upset and hurt, you don’t understand why this happened to you and the police station is scaring you more.

People are asking you complicated questions but they don’t give you time to answer. Why don’t they listen? Where is your support worker? He knows how to help you calm down and communicate.

You display behaviour that challenges in response to this stress. Now you’re being physically restrained and treated like the criminal.

No one will believe what you tell them.

What is a disability hate crime?

A disability hate crime is defined by the Crown Prosecution Service as: “Any offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability or perceived disability.”

This means that if somebody is put through distress, and was targeted, because of their disability or perceived vulnerability (an easy target) it is a hate crime.

Disability hate crime is serious – the motivations are different and the Crown Prosecution Service needs to take this into account during trial and sentencing.

Hate crimes can come in many forms

  • Verbal abuse
    “I’ve been called a paedophile, druggie, weirdo, retard…”
  • Physical abuse
    “My son was bullied at school and online…He has been called a retard and a boy tried to gouge his eyes out.”
  • Theft
    “I had my mobile phone stolen in GCSEs…at uni other students told me I was targeted because I was weird.”
  • Intimidation
    “I have been at the end of very serious threats to my life and being spat at and laughed at in the street near my home and in the town centre too.”
  • Property damage
    “We had equipment provided to keep our disabled child safe repeatedly damaged and were mocked for having extra needs.”
  • Coercion by someone you do or do not know
    “A group of people pretended to be my friends and conned me out of £4,000.”
  • Sexual abuse
    “I was targeted for gang rape because I’m autistic and was easy to trick…they said I should enjoy it…it’s the only time anyone is ever going to f*** me.”
  • Mate crime
    “…it was against my son, he said: It’s ok mummy, they’re my friends.”

Disability hate crime statistics

  • Recent Home Office statistics show a 44% year on year increase in hate crime
  • 3,629 disability hate crimes were recorded by the police in 2015/16
  • The National Crime Survey estimates a true figure of 70,000 disability related hate crimes
  • Public Health England estimated in 2011 that 191,000 people have a learning disability
  • The NHS estimates 700,000 people have autism

How the police can help the victim

If the police know the person has autism or a learning disability, they can do a number of things to support the victim and make sure the crime is treated as a possible hate crime.

Sometimes victims need support to communicate.

The police can help victims with autism or learning disabilities by…

  • Take the victim to a more relaxed environment to talk
  • Give the victim more time to process what’s going on
  • Allow someone to help the victim talk through the experience, such as a carer
  • Give them advice and support to help with fears about going back in public or home
  • Take an official statement from the victim, sometimes using alternative communication techniques
  • Be aware that people who have difficulties communicating, and have experienced something upsetting, might display violent or challenging behaviour [link to definitions page] to express their frustrations
  • Officially report it as a possible disability hate crime and make the Crown Prosecution Service aware of the victim’s autism or learning disability so they can prepare

Find out more about how the police can support victims of autism and learning disability hate crime on our pages for the police force [link to I am a police officer]

How do I report a hate crime?

If you suspect someone is a victim of a hate crime, there are a number of ways you can report it.

Sign up and support #ImWithSam

By signing up to support #ImWithSam and sharing our message and resources you are showing the world that autism and learning disability hate crime will not be tolerated.

Through our campaign against autism and learning disability hate crime, we are working with organisations, professionals and influencers to tackle hate crime at its roots and improve support for victims.

In the first year of #ImWithSam we worked with the Crown Prosecution Service, Police Force, Law Commission and PSHE Association. We drove changes to the criminal justice system, police training and school teaching.