Social care workers are failing to recognise hate crimes against their disabled clients or the importance of reporting them to the police, campaigners say.
Disability activists told a conference last week that hate crimes were “disappearing” from adult protection inquiries.
The event was organised by the UK Disabled People’s Council, Scope, and Disability Now, which issued a joint report last year critical of the lack of disability hate crime prosecutions.
Although not a specific offence, any crime motivated by hostility to someone’s disability attracts tougher sentences under the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
Anne Novis, a UKDPC trustee, told the conference: “The safeguarding adults systems used by social care do not recognise disability hate crimes.”
Amanda Parsons, manager at learning disability advocacy group Bournemouth People First, said social care services should do more to “flag up” disability hate incidents with police to ensure they are properly investigated, while cross-referencing their own records of reported abuse.
Speaking after the conference, Robin Van den Hende, policy and campaigns officer for adult protection charities Respond, Ann Craft Trust, and Voice UK, called for more training for care workers on identifying the characteristics of hate crimes.
“Our worry is that social care workers don’t know they need to [report disability hate crimes to police] and don’t always realise that the earlier they do this, the greater the chance of justice,” he said.
Ruth Bashall, who advises the Metropolitan Police on disability issues, told the conference that social care providers could allow disabled people to report incidents in informal settings, with information then passed to the police.
The current review of the No Secrets guidance on adult protection is considering disability hate crime.