By Sean Weston
West Yorkshire is the worst offender for disability hate crimes in England.
According to research by learning disability charity United Response found that West Yorkshire had the highest number of reported disabled hate crimes with 818.
There have been many accounts of first-hand abuse but the most striking was Amy Williamson, 23, from Leeds, who has Down’s syndrome and faced abuse from a group of boys as she got off a bus near her home.
Amy said: “I think there were 20 of them, they were calling me names and saying mean stuff about my boyfriend.”
Her mother Karen said it severely knocked her confidence.
“Her independence has been affected. Even in her own street, she doesn’t feel comfortable and safe anymore.”
Karen Williamson and her Mum. Photo Credit – BBC.
The 818 reports in West Yorkshire in 2018-19 was a 53% on the figure for 2017-18. West Yorkshire Police said an element of the rise in reports could be attributed to its high standards in crime recording.
Supt. Richard Close said: “Residents should be free to live their lives without fear, hatred or intolerance and there is no excuse for such behaviour.”
Photo Credit – BT.
Another case of someone being abused is Disability blogger Chloe Tear having eggs thrown at her.
“It really shocked me. The person who did it knew me, knew that I was an open book about my disability.
“It’s really hurtful when you spend your whole life trying to be positive about it.”
United Response found out via Freedom of Information requests that in 6,263 disability hate crimes were reported in England and Wales in 2018-19, while in 2017-18 the figure was 5,599. In 2016-17 it was 4,079.
The charity’s figures also showed fewer people were being charged or prosecuted for disability hate crimes across England and Wales.
Chloe said: “I think the figures are absolutely shocking but I’m not surprised. The odd malicious comment is part of our daily life.”
She said more education was needed to address people’s ignorance and reliance on stereotypes.
“As a society, we are getting better and hopefully the younger generation will grow up to be more respectful.”