Suffolk: Rise in reports of attacks on disabled people
A charity worker today claimed there was a need to educate youngsters about hate crimes after new figures revealed reports of attacks on disabled people had jumped massively in recent years.
A Freedom of Information request showed that in 2008/09 there were 86 disablist hate crimes reported to police which rose to 138 in 2009/10 – an increase of 60 per cent.
The Suffolk Hate Crime Service (SHCS), run by Suffolk police and Suffolk County Council, admitted they were expecting numbers to rise substantially this year as well.
Laura Kerr, who worked for the Y Club in Ipswich for ten years, providing support for adults with learning disabilities, said: “I remember one guy who got a black eye at a bus stop and got called names.”
She said: “There’s always been a problem particularly with young children – some of our members would get called names that aren’t acceptable any more.
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“Children need to know more about the difficulties they (people with learning difficulties) face.
“There are some adults, too, that will take advantage – we have seen people who try to take their money and we had one guy who came in with a black eye.”
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Her comments come as a survey by charity Scope claimed 37pc of those polled thought attitudes had got worse over the past year.
The SHCS claimed the rise was largely due to increased awareness which gave victims more confidence to report incidents.
But it hoped that through further education offences would be reduced.
Deborah Charles, a supervisor at the service, said: “We are aware that disability hate crime is currently under reported.
“The service aims to develop an increased awareness of these issues and inform individuals on how they can report hate crime.
“It is expected that this year’s figures will be much higher.
“This does not suggest that there will be many more incidents of disablist hate crime, but due to the increased awareness of hate crime through the work of the Suffolk Hate Crime Service more individuals will feel able to report.”
A poll, released by Scope this month, showed 56pc of disabled people experienced aggression, hostility or violence from a stranger, with 37pc of people saying people’s attitudes to them have got worse over the past year.
n Have you been a victim of a disablist hate crime? Call The Evening Star news desk on 01473 324788 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org