In 2011, Trailblazers received disturbing reports from some of its members. These young disabled people had been humiliated, harassed and bullied by older, non-disabled people. In all of these cases, the offenders were people in authority, and they had harassed the Trailblazers, simply because they were young and independent disabled people.
These reports set alarm bells ringing and we set out to find out if other members of the network had experienced similar incidents of disability motivated harassment and hate crime. We put together a questionnaire, and surveyed more than 400 young disabled people through our website and other communications channels.
Young disabled people should be able to live their lives free of abuse and harassment. Our report, Under Investigation, reveals the very real issue of disability hate crime and the damage it can cause to the lives of young disabled people.
Our report revealed:
- eight out of ten Trailblazers have been harassed, humiliated or embarrassed by a person’s attitude to them
- 50 percent say they have been intimidated because they are a disabled person
- two out of three have been taunted or verbally abused because they are disabled
- 62 percent say they have been or may have been the victim of disability hate crime
- eight out of ten think that the police do not take disability hate crime seriously enough
- only 40 percent are aware that harsher penalties are given for crimes motivated or aggravated by a victim’s disability.
I think disabled people have put up with taunting and abuse for so long that they think that it should be something they accept as part of their lives. I now understand that disability hate incidents are real things – not just something that you should accept as part of your life as a disabled person.
Trailblazers are calling for:
- the police and prosecutions services to always identify and log whether the victim of a crime considers themselves disabled and whether their disability was a motivating factor in the crime
- to promote and develop the reporting of disability hate crimes using telephone helpline and online reporting methods
- to consult groups like Trailblazers and set up and publicise a victim support programme for disabled people who have been bullied or harassed in disability-motivated hate crimes
- to improve awareness of the issues that affect young disabled people by running disability awareness training for police, and other relevant authorities, led by groups of young disabled people like the Trailblazers
- to raise awareness through the media of successful prosecutions to restore the public’s confidence in the system.
Find out more
You can read the most recent report into disability hate crime here. Trailblazers continue to campaign on disability hate crime. If you are affected by these issues and would like to share your experiences or be a media ambassador for us, please contact us.