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Disability-related hate crimes at their highest in East Anglia, new figures reveal

PUBLISHED: 09:41 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 16:06 17 October 2018

Police. Picture: Ian Burt

Police. Picture: Ian Burt

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More hate crimes linked to disabilities have been reported in Norfolk and Suffolk than anywhere else in the country.

The east of England had the highest rate of disability-related hate crimes at 15.8pc of total hate crimes reported, compared to the next highest, which was 10pc in the North East, according to new figures released by the Home Office for 2017-18.

Of nearly 8,300 reported reasons for hate crimes across the six forces in the east of England, 1,311 were due to disability.

And Suffolk and Norfolk police were the top two forces with the highest proportion of hate crimes linked to disabilities, respectively, with Suffolk reporting 378 disability-related hate crimes from a total of 1,156 (32.7pc), and Norfolk reporting 409 of 1,278 (32pc).

A Norfolk police spokesman said the number of hate crimes taking place was likely to be lower than was being reported.

The spokesman said: “There are a number of crimes recorded on our systems where the disability keyword has been attached because the victim was disabled but the motivation of the crime was not hate related.

“Unfortunately the only way to distinguish which of these offences were hate motivated would be to go into each record. When responding to requests for disability motivated hate crimes we decided to provide details of all crimes with the keyword attached.

“It is therefore likely that the actual number of hate crimes recorded in Norfolk and Suffolk are lower than we are currently reporting.

“Recognising this issue, we recently changed the keyword system which has resulted in a significant reduction in the number of crimes which are defined as being motivated by disability hate.”

A Suffolk police spokesman said: “We work hard to raise awareness of what a hate crime is, meaning we now receive more reports. We want victims to be confident in coming forward, and we regularly review our overall response to hate crime, to continue to improve our work with communities.

“Full recognition is given to the fact that individual incidents, which may appear minor in nature to some, are far more serious when part of a pattern of behaviour directed at members of a minority group.

“We would urge anyone experiencing hate crime to give details to the police or to any third party reporting agencies.

“Each hate crime that is not reported is a missed opportunity to support the victim. It is also a missed opportunity to bring a perpetrator to justice, prevent future re-offending, improve local responses through intelligence on patterns of crime and inspire victims’ confidence.”

The Home Office data reports the proportion of hate crimes against different demographics of people vary widely across police forces, with a total of 94,098 hate crimes recorded by police in that period.

The number of motivations does not equate to the total number of hate crimes, with some crimes being linked to more than one motivation.

A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: “Our message is clear – to target hate at a person because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender is a crime that can have a devastating impact upon individuals and communities.

You can report hate crime directly to the police online selecting using our crime reporting form, which can be found here.

Alternatively, you can report Hate Crime online anonymously via True Vision.

Norfolk Constabulary has also been contacted for comment.

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