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 latest stats

Our latest research United Response shows victims of disability hate crimes are unlikely to receive justice.

Read our press release

Image
Illustrations of a house with people standing at the window

Disability hate crime reports

There have been 10,740 disability hate crime reports across England and Wales in 2022/23.

Image
Illustration of two people chatting

Charges or CPS referrals

Out of 10,740 disability hate crime reports, only 132 cases (1.2%) resulted in a charge or CPS referral.

Image
Illustration of people sitting around a table

Offer to be a witness

Our poll indicates 66% of the public think people should offer to be a witness if they saw a disability hate crime.

Our podcast

In our podcast episode, we explore the topic of disability hate crime – what it is and how people can be allies to disabled people

We speak to Sapphire Beamish from United Response. We also chat with Leonard Cheshire’s Rebecca Waugh and find out how Northern Ireland Hate Crime Advocacy Service supports victims of hate crime.

Listen to our podcast

Sapphire in a podcast booth

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

Image
Cassie in Barcelona

Cassie

"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

Image
Kerry Thompson in a formal black dress in a garden

Kerry

"Even today, I’m faced with a different form of online abuse where my character and morals are being questioned. I’ve also spent countless hours crying about the words people have chosen to use about me as a person. I’ve been questioning myself and replaying their words over and over in my head. In a way, I still am. There’s a crucial difference now: I’ve opened up to my support network instead of just bottling it up."

Read Kerry's experience

Image
Rachel Flint outside with trees in background

Rachel

"They say a hate incident must also involve “a real risk of significant harm” to disabled people and/or “a real risk that a future criminal offence may be committed” against disabled people. The bar is now clearly raised for a hate incident. The document seems to invite the police to say that many incidents do not involve a “real risk” of harm or future crime. So, all of this seems to be an attempt by the Home Office to make sure fewer hate incidents are recorded."

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.