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Disability Hate Crime Guidance Statement

29 February 2012

Disability Rights UK has been contacted by many people interested in our hate crime guidance.

We are very grateful for people’s feedback on this guidance.

Introduction to Disability Rights UK

Disability Rights UK is a new organisation. We were created by the merger of Disability Alliance, the National Centre for Independent Living and the Royal Association for Disability Rights. We also incorporate some of the former role of Skill: the National Bureau for Students with Disabilities (which closed in April 2011).

Disability Rights UK is run by and for disabled people. Over 80% of our Trustees are disabled people. Our Chief Executive is a disabled person. The majority of our Senior Management Team are disabled people. The majority of our staff are disabled people. Only organisations run by disabled people may vote at our meetings and help determine our policies and activities.

Disability Rights UK aims to have 750 member organisations as well as individual members. Our website is estimated to have over half a million unique website visits in our first year (based on the former charities’ web visits). We provide advice, support and information to thousands of disabled people.

We accept that we can never speak on behalf of every disabled person in the UK – but we aspire to speak on behalf of the majority.

Disability hate crime and developing the guidance

We are very concerned about disability hate crime.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) reported on the level of the problem of disability harassment. The EHRC report ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ is available online at: http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/legal-and-policy/inquiries-and-assessments/inquiry-into-disability-related-harassment/

Inclusion London and the Glasgow Media Group have also reported on the growth of negative press coverage of disability issues. Their report ‘Bad News for Disabled People’ is available online at: http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_214917_en.pdf

Scope and other organisations have also reported on the ‘hardening’ of attitudes to disabled people. See Scope’s coverage of the issue online at: http://www.scope.org.uk/news/attitudes-towards-disabled-people-survey for example.

We will continue to focus on the role of the press in contributing to disability hate crime. If you are willing to tell us your experiences of press coverage and hate crime please complete our survey online at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LevesonInquiry

The content of our guidance was consulted on widely. We are very grateful to the many organisations and individuals who were involved in the work. 
Before we even started to prepare the guidance we undertook a survey to find out what disabled people understood by disability hate crime and people’s experience of reporting it (or not reporting it). More than one hundred individuals responded to the survey and the anecdotal evidence we received formed the heart of the guidance.

The draft guidance was sent to a wide range of stakeholders including organisations and individuals that had attended Radar empowerment seminars and other Radar networks. Anne Novis, who represented UKDPC on the project board, arranged for the guidance to be sent to all member disabled people’s organisations of UKDPC. It was also sent to police force and crown prosecution service networks (due to their role in tackling hate crime).

We remain grateful to the disabled people’s organisations we received responses from. These included: DIAL Peterborough, Hertfordshire Action on Disability, United Response, ECDP, Wandsworth Access Association, Equality 2025 and DIAL Doncaster. We also received a number of responses from individuals. In almost all cases the responses were constructive and helped us significantly to shape and improve our guidance. The vast majority of the organisations and individuals involved in developing the guidance have expressed positivity about working with us and the overall content of the final products.

Some people have told us they would have liked to help shape the guidance but did not have the opportunity on this occasion. If you would like to be kept up to date on our activities and be involved in future policy development work please visit our membership area.

Launch of the guidance

Our guidance was launched online and by press release to a range of outlets.

Some people have expressed concern that we held a seminar with DWP on the day of the launch of the guidance. The seminar was for central government officials and disability organisations.

We are pleased the Minister for Disabled People was able to attend and speak at the launch. This has secured the guidance central government attention. Disabled people and representative organisations were able to question the Minister and government departments about the important issue. One seminar attendee pressed the Minister for specific cross-parliament action on the issue of disability hate crime.

The seminar helped ensure the Minister stated to include hate crime in a document to be published in Spring; Maria Miller stated:

“I am committed to getting the message across to all MPs in the new Cross-Party Strategy.”

We believe it is important to work with the Minister and Government to secure action on disability hate crime. We hope you agree that working with the Government as far as possible is worthwhile and likely to engender results.

Disability Rights UK has been asked why no journalists were present at the seminar. The seminar was to focus on the substantive policy issues and the guidance in detail. A separate press release went to journalists to help launch and advertise the guidance.

If you are interested in attending future Disability Rights UK events, including seminars, conferences and training for example, please join us.

Next steps

We are still consulting disabled people about the press portrayal of disabled people. You can help shape our response by completing our short survey online at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LevesonInquiry We will use submissions to shape a contribution to the Leveson Inquiry.

We will continue to monitor hate crime issues raised with us and more generally.

Please get involved: If you would like to be involved in our work on hate crime and other policy areas please join Disability Rights UK.

Thank you once again for your interest in our work on this issue – and to all those who contributed to the development of our guidance.