A life without fear?

It is evident there is still much work needed to truly comprehend the current situation of learning disability hate crime.

Executive Summary

Although there has been keen involvement from a variety of public and third sector organisations in the development of schemes addressing learning disability hate crime, the underreporting of such acts limits the acknowledgement and understanding of the severity of the situation.

Many people with learning disabilities are unaware they are experiencing acts of hate crime daily, placing them in very vulnerable positions. Yet without reasonable adjustments to the justice, support and community systems, such horrific abuse will continue. We all deserve to feel safe to live in our homes and community. It is our duty to ensure this happens. 

A fair system would go a long way to ensure that people with learning disabilities are afforded justice and the protection of their rights to lead inclusive safe lives like all other citizens. The volume of hate crime reported leads to a need to further research the way hate crime is defined and create an understanding of the broader definition. We need to review the volume of hate crime experienced compared to reported crime. We have heard many horrific stories where people with learning disabilities did not realise they were victims of hate crime, particularly from people posing as ‘friends’.

The low level of learning disability hate crime reporting is not a surprise. Our focus groups indicated that the occurrence is on such regular basis that it has become the norm in their life. Our report highlights many examples of good practice. We now call for collective action against learning disability hate crime, moving from good practice to common practice.

Priorities for Action  

We are calling for ...

The Government
  • to standardise police reporting systems, to ensure learning disability hate crimes are correctly recorded and reasonable adjustments are made to support the victims when reporting the incident.
  • to fund research to review current reporting pathways and strengthen evidence for good practice examples mentioned in this report and previous reports.
  • to request disaggregated statistics for hate crime against people with learning disabilities because they are more susceptible to hate crime and less likely to report it. This should be actioned by the ONS in the Crime Survey and by police in the routine recording.
The Home Office 
  • to implement standardised protocols, unify reporting pathways and evaluation methods for TPRCs and provide a forum for services to share learnings.
  • to further research safe place schemes. Subject to evaluation, they can fund the Safe Place Organisation to nationally coordinate the schemes across the UK.
The Crown Prosecution Service 
  • to evaluate their current schools pack and seek the support of the Department for Education in promoting the materials to schools.
  • to carry out regular audits to ensure incidents are correctly being flagged across police services.
The National Police Chief Council
  • to prioritise and mandate accredited learning disability hate crime training to all staff within the justice system.
  • to carry out regular audits to ensure incidents are correctly being flagged across police services. 
The Department for Education
  • to prioritise the compulsory inclusion of learning disability hate crime training in all schools. Ofsted then needs to ensure each school is meeting this requirement.
  • to encourage the use of Books Beyond Words within schools.
Local Authorities
  • to develop and improve inclusive mainstream services and publicise local good practice examples of citizen action projects
  • to prioritise the implementation of learning disability hate crime action plans, using a holistic and strategic approach.
  • commissioners and the CQC to check that housing providers are aware of and implement standardised learning disability hate crime training and feeling safe at home programmes. This to improve reporting procedures for residents.
The Police and Crime Commissioners
  • to review current victim support services and work with each local authority to consult with local experts by experience and ensure services are adequately supporting victims of learning disability hate crime. 

We will: 

  • continue to work closely with our newly developed, National Forum for Learning Disabilities and Autism Hate Crime (NFLD&AHC), as well as our experts by experience stakeholders, to develop our understanding of the issues faced by people with disabilities.
  • contribute to the refresh of the Home Office Action Plan on Hate Crime, which will be launched later in 2018.
  • publish comprehensive research on spatial analysis on disability hate crime in England and Wales.
  • publish a review on the effectiveness of interventions to prevent hate crime in the UK.
  • develop further work with other minorities affected by hate crime to gain a deeper understanding of what works in communities for prevention of hate crime