The former director of public prosecutions has told the BBC that the police and Crown Prosecution Service are overlooking the severity of disability hate crime.
Lord MacDonald told the BBC that improvements in the police’s tackling of racial hate crime had not been replicated in relation to disability.
As the outgoing director of public prosecutions in 2008, he described disability hate crime as a “scar on the conscience” of the criminal justice system.
“There have been lots and lots of cases involving disabled people who have been terribly abused, terribly injured, murdered. But we don’t seem to have latched on to the fact yet, it seems to me, that this has happened to them simply because they’re disabled.”
He added that there was an “enormous amount” of low-level harassment of disabled people, “the kind of feeling that disabled people are somehow not all ‘compos mentis’ Police need to recognise that those sorts of stereotypes – which they may be guilty of as well – can lead to crime, and can lead to enormous distress, and can ruin people’s lives.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers, which represents police chiefs from across the UK, said it was “speaking to disabled people to understand the types of harassment they face”.
Its lead on disability, chief constable Simon Cole, said it was “working hard to increase the reporting of these offences”.
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