UK Government crime statistics do not see people with learning disabilities, who remain “invisible” in crime statistics. According to a new report, however, there is widespread evidence they are being targeted in hate crime attacks.
The report, which is titled “A Life Without Fear?”, argues that learning disability hate crime needs to be prioritised by government and better monitoring is required in order to develop more effective ways of addressing the issue.
As reported by Ekklesia, an independent, not-for-profit thinktank in the UK, hate crimes targeted at people with learning disabilities included fraud, violence and taking over people’s property for the purposes of criminal activity such as drug dealing or prostitution – a practise known as cuckooing.
There are approximately 1.4 million people in Britain identified as having a learning disability and a recent national survey found that almost three in four people living with autism and learning disabilities had experienced hate crime.
“The results of our research in which we talked to many people with learning disabilities who experienced hate crime were shocking,” said Christine Burke, Learning Disabilities and Equalities Lead from the Mental Health Foundation. “We uncovered numerous reports of cases where people were deliberately targeted because they were seen as vulnerable and exploitable. This included people facing violence, threat and intimidation from a range of people including criminals, neighbours and even carers.”
The report includes examples of the different approaches to address learning disability hate crime to identify areas of good practise.
As reported by the Telegraph & Argus online, figures released by local police in West Yorkshire, some 855 hate crimes against disabled people have been recorded in two years, with 334 of them involving violence.
According to the figures, 83 of the crimes involved either arson or criminal damage and the high number of crimes has led the force to employ specialist Hate Crime Co-ordinators to crack down on incidents.