UK

'Failure' on disability hate crime changes

Disabled man Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A series of recommendations on disability hate crime were made two years ago

Victims of disability hate crime are still being let down by the justice system, a report has concluded.

The Criminal Justice Inspectorate said police, prosecutors, and probation services had failed to bring about much-needed change over the past two years.

Its follow-up review comes after a critical report in March 2013.

The CPS, police and probation service said they were committed to working together to improve their approach.

'Clear' definition

The report two years ago highlighted several tragic cases, including the deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter, who had suffered years of abuse.

The review said that, of the estimated 62,000 people who believed they had been a victim of disability hate crime, fewer than 2,000 were recorded as such by police.

It said this could be because the criminal justice system had not reached its original target of getting to grips with the concept of disability hate crime within three months.

The original report urged police, prosecutors and probation trusts to adopt and publish a "single, clear and uncomplicated" definition of the crime.

The intention was to ensure it was treated in the same way as other hate crimes, such as race, religion and sexual orientation.

The latest report was carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP).

'Disappointing performance'

Kevin McGinty, chief inspector of HMCPSI, said: "The report's conclusions show that although the three criminal justice agencies have undertaken some initiatives to improve the way they deal with disability hate crime, the overall performance, acknowledged by all agencies, is still disappointing.

"The police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the probation service recognise that further work needs to be carried out to ensure disability hate crime victims are recognised and given the appropriate level of support and service by the criminal justice system."

The first report called on criminal justice organisations to consider how their front-line staff participated in disability hate crime training, and said the police should ensure every opportunity was taken to identify victims.

BBC disability affairs correspondent Nikki Fox says the review shows just how little has changed for victims of disability hate crime.

The CPS, College of Policing and National Police Chiefs' Council said in a joint statement: "It's disappointing that the measures put in place to build confidence among those who experience disability hate crime have not led to a significant increase in reporting.

"Whilst reporting rates in England and Wales are higher than in other countries, we recognise that there is a need to make further progress.

"We are committed to working together and alongside local organisations in order to press forward and ensure all members of our society are treated as equals."

More on this story