abuseThe number of recorded disability hate crimes in England and Wales has increased by a quarter in the past year, according to government statistics.

In 2014/15 there were 2,508 recorded disability hate crimes, an increase of 25% on the previous year, according to the Home Office’s figures. The department’s report said this could be down to a genuine increase in hate crimes or increases in the numbers of victims coming forward to report them.

The increase in disability hate crime follows the overall trend among all forms of hate crime – the others being race, sexual orientation, religious and transgender – in the past 12 months. Overall, 52,528 hate crimes were recorded.

However, the number of recorded crimes is likely to be much lower than the true figure in England and Wales. The National Crime Survey estimated a true figure of 70,000 disability-related hate crimes. And for people with learning disabilities this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. A survey by Mencap found that 88% of people with learning disabilities said they had experienced bullying and harassment in the preceding year.

Service provider Dimensions’ chief executive, Steve Scown, said: “All hate crime – whether on the grounds of race, religion, disability, gender or sexual orientation – should be treated equally under the law. And we strongly encourage people with learning disabilities and autism, and those around them, to report hate crime to the police whenever and wherever it occurs. 

“Dimensions supports people with learning disabilities to learn strategies for avoiding and dealing with situations where they may be threatened by hate crime. When someone we support is affected by hate crime we work with the appropriate authorities to protect the person.”