Mencap has today announced the launch of ‘Stand by me’ – a three-year campaign aimed at tackling disability hate crime – after claiming that the police’s current plans to tackle disability hate crime are failing, leaving vulnerable people at risk of violence, harassment and abuse.

To coincide with the launch of the national campaign, Mencap has also published ‘Don’t stand by’ – a report into disability hate crime. The report show examples of good police practice, but also shows a general lack of police understanding of disability hate crime or a strategy in place to tackle. The charity also claims that the police are also failing to take complaints by disabled people about anti-social behaviour seriously. An associated Ipsos MORI poll, however, found that public awareness of disability hate crime is growing. Nearly half (48%) said that they believe people with disabilities are more likely to be targets of abusive comments or aggressive behaviour compared to other people.

Mark Goldring, Mencap’s chief executive, said: “The tragic deaths of Fiona Pilkington and Francceca Hardwick in 2007 and David Askew in 2010 are just two examples of where low-level harassment ignored by police was allowed to escalate into sustained abuse with fatal consequences.     “It is estimated that as many as 9 out of 10 people with a learning disability are verbally harassed or exposed to violence due to their disability. Today’s report proves that police have not got to grips with disability hate crime, let alone crime against people with a learning disability. Too often they accept abuse as a part of their daily life.  Early intervention is vital if people with disabilities are not to live in fear.”

The report, funded with help from law firm Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP recommends that police services should be more accountable and have a joined up approach to tackling disability hate crime.