West Yorkshire is disability hate crime hotspot again as police record almost 1000 incidents

West Yorkshire has remained a hotspot for disability hate crime for the fourth year in a row, new figures reveal.

Police in the county saw more incidents of hate crime than anywhere else in England or Wales, with 935 recorded between April 2020 and March 2021.

Police in the county saw more incidents of hate crime than anywhere else in England or Wales, with 935 recorded between April 2020 and March 2021.

More than half (485) of the region’s reported crimes were classed by police as ‘violent’, including assault and possession of weapons.

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The figures were compiled by Leonard Cheshire and United Response, two learning disability charities which both campaign against hate crime.

Some 9,252 disability hate crimes reported to police across England and Wales in 2020/21 – up slightly from the previous year.

This is the equivalent of 25 offences a day, but the charities warn that the problem is likely to be far greater due to underreporting.

Of these, 4,101 (44 per cent) were classed as violent – involving assault or possession of weapons – up 4.4 per cent from the previous 12 months.

South Yorkshire recorded a 17 per cent increase in hate crime with 398 instances, but North Yorkshire and Humberside Police did not report their figures to the charities.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Damien Miller of West Yorkshire Police said: “As with all hate offending, disability hate crimes are abhorrent and we want victims to know we will put their needs first whenever an offence is reported.

“As part of our victim focus we have committed to record every hate incident whether it passes the threshold to be classified as a crime or not. We have worked very closely with partners to campaign and actively encourage victims to come forward and make reports to the police.

“This means that while we do record some high levels of hate offending, we also have a better picture of what is happening and would rather victims felt empowered to make their voices heard.”

One Leeds victim of hate crime, Rachel – who did not wish to disclose her full name – said: “I have people shouting abuse and horrible names at me when I am walking to shops. I had abuse shouted at me from a car and chanted at me by a gang of youths.

“I’ve also spoken to other disabled people through my work for Citizens Leeds who have experienced it on public transport and in supermarkets.

“I really want to tackle this issue, because disability hate crime isn’t spoken about enough.”

Another Yorkshire victim, Abi, had 50,000 followers on a social media platform when she was targeted by trolls.

The abuse was motivated by her having autism and being a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she said.

She said: “They revealed my real name and where I lived.

“The social media platform just told me to make my account private but took no action to identify the trolls or remove their hateful content.

“The police also just told me to unlink or deactivate my social profiles.”