Home Office statistics published today show a 25% increase in disability hate crime, but Changing Faces has said that these figures mask the massive under-reporting of disfigurement-related hate crime. Figures also show that less than 4% of disability hate crime is reported to the police.
The Equality Act 2010 defines a ‘severe disfigurement’ as a disability, and an offender who targets a victim because of such a disfigurement would be committing a hate crime. One in every 111 people in the UK live with a facial disfigurement, but Changing Faces says that awareness of the legal protection is very low.
Dr James Partridge OBE, Chief Executive of Changing Faces, commented:
Figures from the British Crime Survey suggest that only 24% of hate crime is reported to police which is worrying enough, but only 3.6% of disability hate crime is reported. We applaud the efforts of recent governments to focus attention on hate crime, and treat these offences with the seriousness they deserve. However, people with disfigurements experience prejudice and in many cases hate crime on a daily basis, and yet the current recording methods don’t capture this, recording it all under ‘disability’. This gives a distorted view of reality.
Over the next twelve months we will be conducting detailed research to establish the extent of disfigurement-related hate crime, talking to the many victims who come to us and to the wider community. We’d welcome a commitment from government to look into this, as victims are currently being left unheard and vulnerable.
NB: Changing Faces is not a hate crime reporting centre and cannot assist with enquiries regarding hate crime. We recommend you contact your local police force or Citizens Advice Bureau. Remember that if a crime is in progress, or you feel under threat, you should dial ‘999’ immediately.