Disability hate crime rates soar in Hackney
- Credit: Hackney Council
Hackney now has the highest number of disability hate crimes in the capital after incidences spiked by 125 per cent over the last year.
Data obtained from the Met Police and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) shows an increase in disability hate crimes across Hackney from September 2019 to September 2020.
Jon Cooper, head of public affairs and policy at disability charity United Response, said: “People with learning disabilities face many inequalities and discrimination in their daily lives.
“If they do not feel safe where they live, they will not be able to feel confident in accessing community facilities such as shops and pubs.
“This can lead to seclusion within their own homes, which might then bring about further risk of abuse from isolation.”
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MOPAC’s data shows the wards with the highest levels of disability hate crime in Hackney are Brownswood and Springfield.
It also shows Hackney has the largest volume of hate crime of any London borough over the last 12 months, with Islington, Camden and Croydon close behind.
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This is consistent with the findings obtained by two national disability charities, which found new police figures showing disability hate crimes reported across Greater London had soared by 20 per cent in 2019/20.
The charities - United Response and Leonard Cheshire - found a total of 477 disability hate crimes were recorded in the capital last year.
Nearly half (198) of these were classed by the Met Police as “violence” – incidents which included assault and harassment.
Only seven of the total 477, committed in Greater London between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020, resulted in a police charge for the perpetrator – a charge rate of less than 1.5 per cent.
Leonard Cheshire and United Response say widespread increases in disability hate crimes could, in some cases, be due to improved reporting efforts and confidence among victims.
However, they said there was also soaring rates of cyber-crime towards people with learning disabilities.
John continued: “As a society, we must come together to educate and empower – educating victims, witnesses and even criminals on the nature and impact of disability hate crimes, but also empowering those who are targeted to speak out and report incidents to the authorities.
“Only when more people are aware of how these crimes happen and affect people’s lives will we perhaps see fewer crimes and more charges.”
The Association of Chief Police Officers and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have agreed a common definition of hate crime: “Any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability or perceived disability.”
Hackney Council has set up a No Place for Hate campaign in the borough.
Cllr Sade Etti, Hackney Council’s No Place for Hate champion, said: “Our shared values of tolerance and inclusivity are what makes Hackney such a wonderful place to live in, work in and visit - and we will never allow these values to be eroded by hatred and discrimination.
“Now more than ever, we need to come together to reiterate the clear message that Hackney is no place for hate.”
“We know that you may feel afraid to report a hate crime, but you don’t need to suffer alone.”
Ch Insp Pete Shaw, from the Met’s Central East BCU, said: “The Central East Command Unit takes all reports of hate crime extremely seriously, and we work with partners to support victims and identify offenders.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 has presented many new challenges for the Met and policing as a whole. In London, there was a rise in reports of racially-aggravated hate crime incidents where certain communities were targeted due to the pandemic.”
He said they responded to the spike with enforcement work, hate crime advice leaflets and videos translated into a number of languages and distributed to the affected communities.
There are also hate crime co-ordinators working across London and has Central Hate Crime Hub to support investigations into hate crimes “in the real world and online”, he said.
“While there has been a rise in the number of hate crimes reported, which may be due to victims feeling more confident and empowered to report incidents, there is still work to be done.
“We know that some victims might be reluctant to, or not think to report hate crimes committed against them to police, and they often aren’t aware of the support available to them.
“We would urge anyone of our residents who has experienced hate crime and not spoken to police to come forward – we will take it seriously. If you don’t want to speak to police, there are other ways you can get help and support.”
Hate crime can be reported to the police by calling 999 in an emergency, and 101 in other situations. You can also report hate crime to Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625.
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Contact North London Victim Support for free local support on 0808 186 9291 (8am-8pm Monday to Friday) or 0808 1689 111 at all other times. You can also request support online here.
Access free, confidential and independent victim support through London Victim and Witness Service on 0808 168 9291.
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