The latest figures have come out from the Home Office on hate crime and as usual the facts are not getting in the way of a sensational headline.
In 2014-15 there were 25% more disability hate crimes reported to and recorded by the police than in 2013-14. In numbers this was a rise from 2006 disability hate crimes recorded by the police in 2013-14 to 2508 in 2014-15.
There has been an upward trend in recorded disability hate crime since the late 2000s when it first began to be systematically recorded. At the same time, the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that overall incidence of disability hate crime has remained at an average of 70,000 incidents per year since 2007/8. That is to say, recorded disability hate crime is rising, but overall incidence is not. It is likely that this reflects a wider trend noted in the Home Office report:
‘The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has attributed recent increases in some categories of police recorded crime to improvements in police recording rather than a real increase in offences. For example, there was a 23 per cent increase in the overall number of police recorded violence against the person offences between 2013/14 and 2014/15 while the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates for violent crime showed no statistically significant change in this period.’
It should be noted that the Home Office report does not attribute all of the rise in recorded disability hate crime to improved police performance, noting that:
‘These could be genuine increases in hate crimes or increases in the numbers of victims coming forward to report a hate crime.’
However, the figures published today do not confirm a 25% rise in disability hate crimes. More likely for the most part they represent welcome but extremely modest progress in the responsiveness of the police. Those who genuinely care about tackling disability hate crime will look beyond the ‘25%’ figure and recognise that the real story here is that despite this progress 96.5% of the 70,000 incidents a year continue to go unreported and unrecorded.