Charity takes action after huge rise in disability hate crimes

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A HUGE rise in disability hate crimes in Leeds and across West Yorkshire has led one charity to take action.

The latest figures from West Yorkshire Police show disability hate crimes and incidences have increased by 71 per cent.

There were 915 recorded hate crimes between April 2017 to January 2018, up from 535 for the same period in the previous year.

In Leeds alone, disability hate crimes recorded by police increased from 30 in 2013/14 to 206 in 2017/18.

Disability charity United Response is now working with West Yorkshire Police to help people with physical and learning disabilities, Down syndrome and autism to recognise the signs of hate crimes and know how to report them.

Jo Silkstone, United Response’s learning development manager for Yorkshire, said: “These shocking figures reveal that there are people out there who wish to do harm to some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“We must do everything we can to empower those who suffer this type of appalling abuse and discrimination to speak out.

“Victims must know that they don’t have to suffer in silence. With the right tools we can help them to contact the police when they do experience hate crimes.”

Many people with learning disabilities, Down syndrome or autism may also not know how to report them to the authorities or may struggle to even recognise the abuse they’ve experienced as a hate crime.

West Yorkshire Police have helped compile new training resources for the charity’s staff who work directly with people with disabilities.

Kevin Brighton, hate crime co-ordinator for West Yorkshire Police, said: “This is often a hidden and underreported crime. Victims can sometimes lack the confidence in coming forward.”