By Local Democracy Reporter Katie May Nelson
Hate crimes in Kent targeted at people living with disabilities have fallen but prosecution of those offences was only taken in just over 1% of cases in the past year.
The number of offences recorded by Kent Police as disability hate crime fell from 622 to 504 (19%) between April 2018 and the end of March this year.
However, a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service has revealed just six of these offences resulted in a charge, summons or postal requisition. Two were charged for alternate offences.
In the last three years, there has been a decrease in every type of crime which could involve a hate crime element, except for malicious communications which rose from 66 in 2018/19 to 82 in 2019/20.
Figures from two categories remained the same: criminal damage to a vehicle (16) and threats to kill (two).
The biggest offence recorded which involved disability hate crime was intentional harassment, alarm or distress, with 122 incidents in the last year.
National charity Leonard Cheshire helps support disabled people’s access to work, learning, and their rights.
Terence McCorry, the charity’s disability hate crime advocate, said: “While the number of reports of disability hate crime is beginning to decrease in Kent, there is still an unacceptable disparity between the number of crimes and the number of charges.
“Our recent research with United Response showed that on a national level, very few cases lead to concrete charges and convictions.
“For more cases to get through the courts, it is really important that disability hate crime victims feel safe and supported when reporting these crimes.
“This crime must be taken more seriously. No one should be discriminated against for their disability but, sadly, this type of behaviour leaves many people isolated from their communities and even afraid to leave their own homes.”
Chief Inspector Lara Connor, of Kent Police’s Partnerships and Communities team, said: “Kent Police is committed to ensuring we protect the most vulnerable in our society and to the delivery of a first class service to victims and witnesses of all crime.
“Crimes motivated by prejudice are abhorrent and all incidents reported to us are investigated thoroughly and we take a robust stance against all forms of hate crime to ensure that the county remains a safe place for all.
“Kent Police is committed to providing the best possible service to all victims and as a force we are not driven by meeting targets, but instead focus on meeting the needs of the victim and ensuring they are safeguarded.
“We follow strict national guidelines when recording and investigating crime and it is important to remember that a charge is one of 21 possible outcomes for an investigation.
“When a victim contacts Kent Police to report a crime, several processes begin and these can include offering advice and support, putting in place safeguarding measures as well as commencing an investigation.
“We will always listen to the victim and when it is not in their best interest to attend court, we will explore more suitable outcomes.
“Hate crime of all types, including that aimed at disabled people, will simply not be tolerated.
“We will continue to target those responsible and support all communities within Kent to reduce the likelihood of them becoming victims.
“We have built strong links with partner organisations and advisory groups to ensure that those with disabilities have confidence in us when they report issues.
“Victims of hate crime need not suffer in silence and we encourage them to report all incidents to us.
“We have introduced a number of measures including drop-in centres and educational workshops to encourage reporting, and the feedback on these has been positive.”
So strange how this has now come to notice since the young lady reported it to the the TV people ( BBC south east.). Its not nice what some people say, yes there are some very nice people who care about a disabled person and ask if they need any help you will only find 1 or 2 in thanet during the day if you’re lucky as the majority of them are at work helping those who are in great need of assistance, to many of the public couldn’t give a hoot they are only concerned about themselves, a few years ago the lady who was on the TV show was helped across the road before she had a dog by a man on crutches they were given a a bit of verbal from a few youths approx 18 about the blind leading a f###ing cripple and if she could see how ugly he was she wouldn’t touch his arm and then she said looks don’t matter he is the only person who asked if they could help out of all of you who walked straight past in the 4 minutes I waited to cross to me he has a heart of gold, that shut them up. Things have got worse since that day I’ve heard it seen it especially when the idiots see a downs syndrome adult so many people take the Mickey out of them especially on the buses in Cliftonville area I’ve had great conversations with 3-4 of them a few are quiet because they are scared to talk because of the way they get treated by some its a good job they usually have a chaperone with them. And very few people will ask a elderly or disabled person who has to stand up on a bus if they want to sit in their seat, but chap gave his seat up to a lady who had 2 babies 1in a papoose and one on reins as he said you can put walker in the little rack next to you and is safer. No to many people have only one thing of concern to them that is the self f### anyone else it’s me, me, me and sometimes it gets physical and they get assaulted by them. I hope you at this paper-e-news do a street wide journey around thanet and see for yourselves what happens to the handicapped / disabled people and ask them, or safer go to the clubs /community where they are.