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

Sign our social media pledge

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

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.

Pledge your name

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)

We respect your right to privacy and to have your data kept securely and we will never sell or swap your data. We may use and share your data for administrative purposes and/or profiling to help us provide the best possible service and inspiring content. 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.

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.

Cassie in her wheelchair looking at her phone

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

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Emma at a bustop

Emma

“I was verbally abused for simply wanting to board the bus as a wheelchair user. Verbally abused for simply wanting to go shopping. I think the most misunderstood thing about disability hate crime is the lasting impact it leaves. I still remember every detail of the incident I was victim in , years later.”

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Headshot of Ella Glendining

Ella

"As a visibly disabled person (who's short in height), I experience ridicule and verbal abuse when out in public on a regular basis. Disabled people are treated as less than human to such a degree that being harassed in this way is a totally normal occurrence for us. It is important for people to realise that this kind of abuse constitutes a hate crime."

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Kerry Thompson

Kerry

"People don’t see or understand that disability hate crime is very much alive and happening. You will rarely see disability talked about in social media guidelines, and it is often an afterthought. Until social media platforms start to recognise disability hate crime and ableism, we are faced with adding it to the already long list of things we just put up with’"

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're calling for:

  1. Every police force to have a trained specialist disability liaison officer.
  2. More awareness around how to report hate crime.
  3. Funded specialised disability services to support victims and survivors after a crime.
  4. Disability to be made a specific protected characteristic supported by hate crime legislation.
  5. The Online Safety Bill to strengthen legislation around what constitutes harmful activity online.
  6. The government’s National Disability Strategy urgently need to raise awareness around disability to prevent disability hate crime in the first place.
Cassie in her wheelchair in front on a glass building