United Response is training its staff in Leeds to help people with disabilities and their carers spot the signs of hate crimes as new figures reveal a huge rise across Leeds and West Yorkshire.

Statistics from West Yorkshire Police show disability hate crimes and incidences recorded from April 2017 to January 2018 increased by 71 percent to 915 – up from 535 the previous 12 months. In Leeds alone, disability hate crimes recorded by the police have increased from 30 in 2013/14 to 206 in 2017/18 – a 587 percent rise in just four years.

The disability charity United Response is now working with West Yorkshire Police to help people with physical and learning disabilities, Down syndrome and autism recognise the signs of hate crimes and know how to report them.

Response

Jo Silkstone, United Response’s learning development manager for Yorkshire, said: "These shocking figures reveal that there are people out there who wish to do harm to some of society’s most vulnerable people."

"We must do everything we can to empower those who suffer this type of appalling abuse and discrimination to speak out." 

"Victims must know that they don’t have to suffer in silence. With the right tools we can help them to contact the police when they do experience hate crimes."

The charity also believes disability hate crimes are underreported despite rising figures. Only nine percent of all hate crimes and incidences recorded from April 2017 to January 2018 were marked as disability hate crimes. Many people with learning disabilities, Down syndrome or autism may also not know how to report them to the authorities or may struggle to even recognise the abuse they’ve experienced as a hate crime.

West Yorkshire Police have helped compile new training resources for the charity’s staff who work directly with people with disabilities. The resource provides guidance to support workers on how to have conversations with people with disabilities explaining what a hate crime is in easy-to-understand language. This helps people to identify whether they have been a victim of hate crime.

The charity believes this will allow them to help the people they support to know the difference between hate crimes and incidences, to recognise the signs of hate crime and to know how to report this to the authorities. It will also show the charity’s staff how to advocate on behalf of the people they support.

Hate Crime Co-ordinator for West Yorkshire Police Kevin Brighton said: “This is often a hidden and underreported crime.

"Victims can sometimes lack the confidence in coming forward and reporting this to the authorities. Sometimes they don’t realise they have even experienced a hate crime."

"That’s why this resource pack we’ve helped put together and the training United Response’s staff have undertaken is so crucial."

"That will go a long way in helping equip people with disabilities with the knowledge they need to stand up to bullies and bigots."

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC), added: "We all have a duty to take action and work in partnership to tackle hate crime and support victims. I fully support the work of United Response focussing on disability hate crime which is helping to make a real difference in our communities. It’s a great initiative."