News last week of a barber who cut the word 'fool' into the hair of a man with learning disabilities being sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid work was welcome - and shows that hate crime is becoming a priority. Bristol-based barber Michael Campbell was found guilty of common assault for cutting the offensive word into his customer Michael Ricketts' hair. Ricketts has communication difficulties and non-specific severe learning disabilities, which Campbell knew about. In his defence, Campbell claimed he shaved the word 'cool' but it had been misinterpreted. Not only has Campbell been convicted but Avon and Somerset Police treated what he did as a hate crime because of Ricketts' disabilities. Detective constable Mai Wong said that Avon and Somerset Police take all reports of hate crime seriously and he hoped this case would encourage other victims of hate crime and their carers to come forward and report incidents, knowing that they will be listened to. Hopefully it will it will lead to more crimes being reported and not just by people in the local area but around the country too. The conviction also shows that the police and courts do take hate crimes seriously and that if victims come forward, they can ensure that justice is done. This shows that crimes such as this are increasingly being treated as disability hate crimes, rather than being put into other categories. It also demonstrates that campaigns such as Mencap's 'Stand by me' are having a positive effect. One of the main aims of the campaign was to ensure the police clamp down more on hate crime such as this. Nevertheless, disability hate crime figures are still very low; in the 3 years to March 2010 1,214 defendants were prosecuted, far fewer than for other hate crimes, and undoubtedly far fewer than the real total of disability hate crimes. Hopefully in years to come hate crime prosecutions will increase - not because they are on the rise, but because more are being reported and treated as hate crime - which will hopefully also lead to an increased number of convictions. While there is undoubtedly some way still to go to ensure that disability hate crime is treated as seriously as other forms of hate crime, it shows that things are going in the right direction. More cases such as this will send out a strong message that disability hate crimes are unacceptable and that perpetrators will be caught and convicted.