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

Seeking justice after a disability hate crime

A disability hate crime is an offence committed against someone because they have a disability.

Who do I tell and how do I do it?

You can:

1. Tell the police. You can call 101 or Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555111. Or you can go into a police station to talk to a police officer. Or you can report the incident online at http://report-it.org.uk/disability_hate_crime1. This is called making a ‘report’. If you feel threatened, always call 999.

2. Download the Self Evident App for iPhones and Android phones. You can use the App to take photos of where the incident happened, and record a video of yourself explaining what happened. You can send this directly to the police through the App. 

3. Tell someone at a ‘third party reporting centre’ in your area – many areas have a local disability service that provide this support, for example. They can give you a form for you to write down what happened which they can send to the police. Or they can report the incident to the police for you. They can support you during the police and court process, and help you to recover from the incident. You can find the closest reporting centre to you here

4. Tell your support worker, social worker, day centre organiser, carer, doctor or nurse, friend, family member, or someone else you trust. You can show them this article so they know how to help you.

Try to remember details about the person or people responsible and tell the police. How many people were there? Were they girls or boys? How old do you think they were? What did they look like? What were they wearing? What did they say or do to you? How did you feel at the time?

Try to do this quickly after the incident. This will help you remember details when you tell the police about the incident. You can also take photos of anything you think the police should see and show them. You could ask someone to help you do this.

What will happen once I tell the police?

The police will try to find the person or people who did it. They will also try to find anything to show or prove the incident happened. This could be photos or videos the person made during the incident. It could be money or other things the person took from you. It could also be what a doctor says about what happened to you. The police may ask you to write a ‘Victim Personal Statement’ to say how what happened made you feel. The police can help you write this.

Then the police will decide if there is enough to show or prove the incident happened. If there is, the police will ask the Crown Prosecution Service to tell the person to go to court and explain to the judge what they did. The judge may ask you to come to court to tell him what happened and how you felt too.

I’ve been told I have to go to court but I’m scared

When you get to court, someone from the ‘Witness Care Unit’ will meet you. They will help you understand what is happening and sit with you. You can ask them any questions you like. You will sit with them in a quiet room away from the main entrance so you don’t see the person.

There are also special things the court can do to help you tell the judge what happened.

If you are too scared to go into the courtroom, you can speak to the judge in private alone. Or you can sit in another room with a friend and speak to the judge by a video screen. Or someone else can tell you the question and then tell the judge your answer for you.

If you are happy to go into the courtroom, you can have a screen in front of you when you speak to the judge so no one else in the courtroom can see you.

If you are worried about speaking to the judge, you can write down your answers instead of say them. There will be sign language interpreters or lipspeakers if you need them. Any papers will be given to you in Braille, large print, or audio if you need this.

Where can I get legal support?


A lawyer can help make sure your case is dealt with properly, as a disability hate crime. You can find a local solicitor by visiting http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/ or going to your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

I’m worried about going out now. What can I do?

It is understandable that you may feel nervous about going out after what happened. Tell the people you trust how you feel so that they can support you.

If a charity helps you, you can speak to them about it. Even if they can’t help you, they will be able to help you to speak to someone who can.

If you have any trouble with doing this, you can show this article to a friend, family member or someone else you trust who can help you do this.

I know someone who has experienced a disability hate crime. What should I do?

Reporting the incident may be very difficult and scary for them, as it would be for everyone. They may not understand what will happen if they report the incident, or may be worried or unsure about how they do it. They may also be worried that the police will not believe what they say, or they may have little faith in the police. Consider the ways to report an incident listed above and see which would be easiest for them. If you think they are not able to report the incident themselves, you can report the incident to the police yourself.

The police investigation and court processes can be long and complicated, and difficult to understand for anyone. There are lots of measures available to support people with a disability understand and cope with this process and to help the person give evidence at court. 



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