Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

Disability murders to carry greater sentences

Sentences for murders motivated by hatred to people with disabilities are set to be increased under Ministry of Justice (MoJ) plans.

The MoJ plans to amend the Criminal Justice Act (2003) so that sentences for murders motivated by hatred or hostility towards disabled or transgender victims will start at 30 years. This is the same as murders aggravated by race, religion and sexual orientation.

Currently, the starting point for disability and transgender hate crime murders is 15 years. The government plans to include these changes in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is currently progressing through parliament.

Learning disability charity Mencap has welcomed the decision. “By recognising this anomaly in sentencing, and taking steps to address it, we will move one step closer towards ending disability hate crime,” said David Congdon, Mencap’s head of campaigns and policy. “However, there is still some way to go before all disability hate crime cases are treated equally in law and more must be done to ensure that criminal justice professionals do all they can to make disability hate crime a priority. There are 10 million disabled people in the UK, yet only 1,200 cases of hate crime have been prosecuted over a four year period, compared to almost 50,000 racist and religiously-motivated crimes. “We hope to work with judges, the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and other authorities to ensure that the way disability hate crime is recorded, investigated, charged and sentenced, inspires confidence in the system.”

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