Addressing disability hate crime

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People with learning disabilities are still experiencing high levels of bullying, harassment and hate crime despite much work being done in this area. 

Disability hate crime schemes under investigation – what works for people with learning disabilities?

We have been awarded funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation to run a project to address what disability hate crime schemes work best. The project will be completed in late 2017.

This project aims to map and evaluate the current hate crime initiatives around the UK through the use of an online survey and site visits. Examples include - disability awareness training in schools; setting up third party reporting sites; helping people to have a circle of support or connect with their local community; developing training to educate people with learning disabilities about disability hate crime and safe places schemes.

We will ask for evidence of good practice and effective programmes which either reduce incidences of hate crime or support people with learning disabilities who have experienced these issues. We will work closely with our existing disability hate crime reference group, made up of people with learning disabilities, with whom we have a history of working in partnership (they worked with us on our previous project Voice and Community).

The reference group will compare the range of approaches to addressing which hate crime schemes work best, paying attention to demographics such as what works best in rural and urban areas, and what works across age ranges and the community. We will write a summary report documenting this which will help communities consider the best options for them.

As well as having a reference group of people with learning disabilities who will take the role of co-researchers, they will also be part of a larger stakeholder group made up of representatives from the police, the Disability Hate Crime Network, Stop Hate UK, the Crown Prosecution Service, ARC (Association for Real Change) and H&SA (Housing and Support Alliance) who will meet a few times during the course of the project to collate information and help us with the dissemination process.

Voice and Community

Through our project ‘Voice and Community’, working in partnership with Lemos and Crane, we worked with a group of people with learning disabilities to find out about their experiences of hate crime, bullying and harassment and explored ways to prevent these experiences in the future.

As a result of this work we have developed some resources to support people with learning disabilities and developed a campaign to change attitudes towards people with learning disabilities to prevent further abuse.

Through our project ‘Voice and Community’, working in partnership with Lemos and Crane, we worked with a group of people with learning disabilities to find out about their experiences of hate crime, bullying and harassment and explored ways to prevent these experiences in the future. As a result of this work we have developed some resources to support people with learning disabilities and developed a campaign to change attitudes towards people with learning disabilities to prevent further abuse.

About the project

This project ran from 2011-2014 and was in partnership with Lemos and Crane. Our role was to provide expertise around all aspects associated with the voice of people with learning disabilities. We established a reference group of people with learning disabilities who acted as advisors to the project.

Funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, this three-year project had two phases:

Phase 1 - Voice

We explored the wide range of experiences described as ‘hate crime’ by people with mild or moderate learning disabilities.

Findings 

A group of 17 organisations who have regular contact with people with learning disabilities took part and between them interviewed 67 people to find out about their life and if they had experienced some form of abuse or harassment. 62 of those interviewed had experienced some form of harassment. The majority of those responsible for such incidents were neighbours or people known in their locality (25%), school children or young people (17%) and predatory ‘friends’ (13%). 

The reference group we established developed the accessible interview schedule for people with learning disabilities and tested it out, shared their experiences and commented on the key messages and recommendations of the report Loneliness and Cruelty. They also helped to produce an Easy Read version of the report.

Phase 2 - Community

This phase focused on prevention and support for people with learning disabilities. The Foundation has developed three strands to this work. There are two Easy Read resources for people with learning disabilities to help them think about how to keep safe. These resources cover keeping safe in their communities and on social media and the internet; two places where people with learning disabilities are often victims of hate crime and harassment. 

We also felt that people with learning disabilities are negatively affected by their representation in the media. The lack of positive images of people with learning disabilities in the media can lead to a perpetuation of negative attitudes and beliefs about people with learning disabilities. With the help of our reference group we have developed a short film aimed at broadcasters explaining why this is an issue and some tips on how they can change the way they represent people with learning disabilities.

Lemos and Crane have also developed a website called Action Against Cruelty where people can share resources and information about these issues. There is an accessible part for people with learning disabilities to find information and support.

We also launched a petition to Ofcom, asking them to change the way their represent people with learning disabilities on television and radio.

Resources