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Some police forces failing to engage with DPOs on hate crime

30 October 2014

Police forces with low levels of reported hate crime failing to engage with DPOs

As everyone knows the Disability Hate Crime Network, Disability Rights UK and many other organisations and individuals have worked tirelessly since 2007 to increase awareness of Disability Hate Crime, and were heartened that when he was DPP, Sir Ken MacDonald said that Disability Hate Crime was a scar on the justice system. His words and the actions of ACPO under the guidance of Leicester Chief Constable Simon Cole and pressure from us has seen some improvements in the conviction rate to 82%, albeit at disappointingly lower numbers of prosecutions.

So, sadly we have to say that we are still miles away from where we should be, and a further very recent comment by Sir Ken when he said that the police and CPS are still failing disabled people, was hard to take, and importantly noticeable was the fact that CPS were 'unable' to supply figures based on the use of section 146 allowing for enhancing the sentence which is the result of a case based on 'any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a persons disability or perceived disability'.

Stephen Brookes, Disability Rights UK Ambassador, and coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network made the critically important point that police forces with low levels of recorded hate crime were those that were failing to engage with local disabled people's organisations. He said: "Those forces that have not done that are the ones where the numbers are low. It is not a coincidence."

He added, "It is also important to note the absolute failure of the judiciary at all levels to give disabled people confidence in the judicial system, and is a matter we continue to challenge. The 'ignorance' of judges in even starting to understand the added issues of being disabled, which is clear in their failure to apply s146 (which is rarely applied) is a national disgrace and is clearly and substantially responsible for the failure of disabled people to bother to report cases given the decreasing chance of real justice. There is need for a new working party to look in some detail at aspects of reporting , charging and sentencing of DHC, at a time when we have a wake up call to the whole criminal justice system to step up the need to increase the number of prosecutions to reflect the seriousness of attacking all disabled people".

Disability Rights UK and the Disability Hate Crime Network will be looking at ways of making the criminal justice system reengage in reducing disability hate crime.