Since Dimensions launched the #ImWithSam campaign in October 2016, I have been talking to politicians, police, people with learning disabilities and autism, and others about hate crime.
Here are my thoughts on what the new government should be doing to tackle learning disability and autism hate crime.
By Mark Brookes, Campaign Advisor and expert by experience.
Writing supported by Andie Gbedemah
Getting the statistics
We still don’t know how many learning disability and autism hate crimes there are each year. At the moment, the police only record the total number of disability hate crimes.
We worked with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to get some new analysis, which found people with autism and learning disabilities are the most likely victims of disability hate crime.
I want the new government to commit to gathering national data on hate crime by disability group, so that we can see how many of these terrible crimes are really taking place.
Prosecuting hate crime
It can be difficult to prosecute a learning disability or autism hate crime. Police and prosecutors need to gather the right evidence. They also need the right skills to support everyone to give the best possible evidence.
Recently, I have seen prosecutions of crimes against people that have a learning disability, but it’s not clear if these were treated as hate crimes. Look at the Atlas Project, for example.
We’ve done some great work with the Crown Prosecution Service to renew their policy on crimes against disabled people.
I want the new government to commit to funding and training officers so that they can support victims when they first report a crime, giving the best chance of prosecuting the hate crime.
Lots of people still aren’t sure what a hate crime is or how they can report it. Lots of people tolerate the way they’re treated because they have grown used to it. 48% of the people we asked said they hadn’t reported to the police.
I want the new government to support people with learning disabilities and autism, their families and support staff by publishing simple guidance on recognising and responding to hate crime.
Support our campaign and say #ImWithSam
There is lots more to be done about learning disability and autism hate crime. At Dimensions, we are doing great work through the #ImWithSam campaign to drive change.
To keep going we will need the support of the new government, criminal justice agencies and the public. I am looking forward to continuing the campaign.
You can find out more about our #ImWithSam campaign, and how to sign up and show your support, on this page.
About the author
Mark Brookes is our Campaigns Advisor and one of our spokespeople. Mark has a learning disability and a keen interest in ensuring people with learning disabilities are safe, while remaining independent.
Mark often speaks publicly about disability hate crime and is an advocate for people with learning disabilities and autism being treated equally. He is also employed by Dimensions as a Quality Auditor, a role that sees him visiting services to check people are supported in a personalised way.