Disability hate crime: We need more action and justice


One blogger reflects on their experience of disability hate crime and explains why it’s so crucial for the police to have a good understanding of what constitutes as one.

Reporting these incidents and crimes is important, but disabled people need more assurance that doing so will result in action and justice.

Hate Incidents are acts of hostility conducted against someone because they are in some way different. Hate Crimes are the same, except a crime has also been committed. For example, blocking someone from using a priority seat because they have a disability may count as an Incident. But to do that and abuse them as well is a crime.

British law states that people are susceptible to Hate Incidents and Crimes because of their:

  • Race or ethnicity.
  • Decision to change their gender.
  • Sexual preferences, for example, being gay, lesbian, non-binary etc.
  • Religion.
  • Disability.

Disability Hate Crime is under reported, and there can be several reasons for this. Disabled people might not know what constitutes a hate crime. They might name the abuse as simply being ‘bullying’ and not realise that they can report it. Disabled people can be victims of hate offences from family members and carers, making it harder to report incidences.

My hate crime experience

As a deaf and disabled person, I have experienced several moments during my life of hate crimes and hate incidents. I have found it hard to tell the difference, and on the rare occasion I did report to the police, they also lacked awareness of disability hate crime.

I had an anti-social neighbour who enjoyed having loud, drunken parties, with lots of swearing, bottle throwing and fireworks. I complained to them and asked them to turn the music down and show more consideration to neighbours who were elderly or who had young children. Their responses included telling me: “what do you care, you can’t hear us anyway” and also “we’ll turn the volume up if you want” (said in a mocking manner, not a ‘helpful’ one!).

The police initially said it was my word against theirs and that the police could do nothing to help me. After being pushed by myself and my husband to act, they said it was only a hate incident, and they would ‘take a note’ of it.

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

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The neighbours were not happy to discover I had gone to the police and took to their social media pages to refer to me as “that deaf b*tch” and my husband as “sir limps a lot” as he has a metal rod in his leg. They would stand outside our house and stare through the windows, forcing me to keep my blinds closed. They began to allow their dogs to defecate in our garden. We installed security cameras and took recordings and social media screenshots for the police. Despite this evidence, the police still insisted that it was our word against theirs and that no hate crime had been committed.

It came to a head when my husband came home from work and had only just stepped out of his car when the male neighbour confronted him with a baseball bat, shouting abuse, including disability-related abuse about me. Again, we contacted the police, who informed us that the neighbours had made entirely false counter allegations that we had made death threats against them, and they were defending themselves. The police threatened to charge us if our behaviour continued. Again, they did not accept that we were victims of a disability hate crime.

We moved. On our moving day, our neighbours had a party in the street and gave us obscene signs from their windows as we drove away. Fortunately, we are very happy where we now live.

Disabled people deserve reassurance

When the police themselves do not know what a hate crime is and are reluctant to take any action, what protection from physical or mental harm is there for disabled people? This also means that disability hate crimes are less likely to be reported.

Reporting these incidents and crimes is important, but disabled people need more assurance that doing so will result in action and justice.