Hate crimes directed towards people with disabilities have doubled in Manchester in the past two years, a Freedom of Information Act has revealed.
The total number of recorded hate crimes against disabled people jumped from 109 to 200 between 2013 to 2014.
Although the final recorded number for last year is expected to be noticeably higher, as of 15 December 2015, the total stood at 218.
That marks a raise of 124% since 2011, and Debbie Abrahams – MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth and Shadow Minister for Disabled People – said that the actual number of victims could be significantly higher.
“The Coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network has said that reported crimes underestimate the true scale of the problem as there is significant under-reporting,” she told MM.
“As many as 60,000 disability hate crimes could occur annually in the UK.
“Indeed I raised my concerns about the rise in disability hate crime with the Home Secretary last November. Clearly much more needs to be done to tackle this issue.
“I’m working closely with Disability Hate Crime Network who tell me that the new system of peer to peer reporting has seen an increase in disabled people’s confidence to report these appalling crimes.”
These figures follow a nation-wide increase in the number of reports, but regardless of these suggestions, hate crimes against disabled people are widely believed to be underreported.
Ms Abrahams said: “Research by Scope has shown that two thirds of disabled people feel they are treated differently because of their disability, with only 40 per cent saying the UK is a good place to be a disabled person.
“This issue is something I’m determined to address in my role as Shadow Minister for Disabled People and I will be meeting soon with the Disability Hate Crime Network to hear their views on how best to tackle these crimes.”
When contacted by MM with these figures, Greater Manchester Police stressed how seriously crimes of this nature are taken by the police.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, lead on Neighbourhood Policing, said: “Disability hate crimes have a huge impact on victims and can affect day to day living for the rest of their lives, which is why we are so dedicated at supporting victims after they are targeted and ultimately preventing these incidents from happening.
“We are raising awareness within disability communities in Greater Manchester by holding engagement events, such as Hate Crime Awareness Week and establishing hate crime reporting centres within organisations that already support disabled people.
“We have also worked with the Crown Prosecution Service to deliver joint training sessions for officers and have welcomed organisations to speak to front-line officers during self-development days.
“I urge the communities within Greater Manchester to stand together as one and show a united front against hate crime, which remains a priority for Greater Manchester Police.
“Ensuring our officers are trained in this area remains a big focus for us over the coming months.
“Anyone who is a victim of a hate crime should call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Alternatively, report online at www.report-it.org or use the True Vision app.”
This week also marks the launch of Greater Manchester’s Hate Crime Awareness week, with a number of events taking place to alert the public to crimes of these sorts.
Police and Crime Commissioner and Interim Mayor for Greater Manchester, Tony Lloyd, said: “Hate crime devastates lives and divides communities.
“It has no place in Greater Manchester, a region that celebrates diversity and promotes tolerance and inclusivity.”
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