Emma in her wheelchair outside a door with blurred moving traffic in front of her

Disability hate crime

What is disability hate crime?

Disability hate crime is a criminal 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.

Hate crime can take place in person, online or by phone. It includes things like verbal and physical abuse, harassment, threatening behaviour and intimidation or damage to property.

Sometimes it is a one-off incident from a stranger, other times it’s an ongoing pattern of behaviour.

Check hate crime rates in your area

Our social media pledge

I pledge to:

  • Call out disability hate crime – if I see offensive language being used or witness abuse, I will report it to the social media platform or to the police.
  • Be an ally – reach out to victims, show my support, help them report the crime and offer to be a witness if they need one.
  • Continue the conversation with my friends and families and show my solidarity with victims of online disability hate crime by using the hashtag #NoPlaceForHate.
Cassie in her wheelchair looking at her phone

Sign our social media pledge

Join us in our pledge to drive down disability hate crime on social media and support victims.

Rob, a volunteer, with Sam, a resident, in his bedroom at Lavender Fields

Stay in touch

We’d like to keep you updated about how we support disabled people to live, learn and work as independently as they choose. We’ll let you know how you can support our vision and get involved through fundraising, volunteering and campaigning opportunities.

Contact pref email (optional)

For specific details on how we may use your data, please read our full privacy notice. You can update or remove your personal details any time by contacting us by email at supporter@leonardcheshire.org or by calling us on 0300 303 0074.

Emily's hate crime experience

"I’ve dealt with hate because of my disability quite a number of times both in person and online. Because of this, I came to the decision to limit the amount I was posting about disability related matters especially on places like YouTube.

"Even now when I write articles about disability and about my personal experiences with different issues that I experience because I’m a disabled person I still receive hate in the comment section."

Emily davidson with her guide dog

How to report hate crime

If you’ve been a victim of disability hate crime, or know someone who has been a victim, you can report it if you feel safe to do so.

Emma at a bustop

Report it to the police

You can report it to the police by calling 101 or by filling out their online form.

You can also report it online with your regional police force on their own websites.

If you’d prefer to speak to someone in person, you can also visit your local police station to report the crime.

Emily Davison holding her phone in her bedroom

Report social media hate crime

If you see disability hate crime taking place online, you can report it directly to the website, platform or forum.

Here are some useful links:

Stories from our community

Cassie in Barcelona


"The hate I have experienced varies significantly. From being told by strangers, ‘I can f*ck you better,’ to having people follow me in the street, yelling abuse, taking photos of me and posting them online. I remember being tipped out of my wheelchair by a mother who was desperate for the wheelchair space on the bus for her baby. Or having someone grab inappropriate parts of my body under the guise of helping me."

Read Cassie's experience

Zoe and her guide dog Shelia


"I’ve also had many invasive questions asked, and some comments can feel very isolating. It’s not just staff, and that’s the problem. It’s the general public, too, who make these places feel hostile. I’ve been followed around shops by people trying to sneakily stroke Sheila. One man did this for half an hour and laughed at me for being more and more scared. I ended up having to leave because of him."

Read Zoe's experience

Rachel flint in her wheelchair in front of a floral horse display


"Truthfully, once you have experienced a disability hate crime, it never truly leaves you. I am relatively lucky in that I only had to endure two such incidents, both verbal in nature. Since these occurred in the community in broad daylight, the fear of the next one and whether it will be violent is constantly at the back of my mind. There are so many things about hate crime that, in hindsight, I wish I'd known."

Read Rachel's experience

What needs to change

Our research has highlighted there are still significant gaps in the support available for disabled people to report a hate crime, and for the crime committed to be prosecuted.

We have co-authored a report with United Response to look at recent trends and make recommendations to police forces and the government to help curb these crimes.

Our recommendations

  • Education – We want to see the national curriculum directly address ableism, similar to Hackney Education’s successful Diverse Curriculum model.
  • Dedicated Disability Liaison Officers – All forces should receive appropriate central funding to appoint at least one dedicated Disability Liaison Officer trained in disability awareness and engagement.
  • Investment – The government should invest in ways to mitigate disability hate crime’s impact, publish its hate crime action plan and better support people who experience disability hate crime.
  • Awareness raising – The government should roll out its promised awareness-raising campaign around disability as a priority with a view to educating the public on disability hate crimes and the importance of community when reporting it.
  • Online Safety Bill – When the bill is published it must provide clear parameters to help challenge disability-related abuse happening online.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service - Should convene its proposed panel of Disabled People’s Organisations and other stakeholders as a matter of urgency.