Sue Marsh “The culture of hatred for the disabled comes from the top” http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/sep/16/disabled-hate-crime-government-benefits
There is little doubt that disability hate crime is on the rise. A recent Equality and Human Rights Commission report*1 concluded that "people with disabilities in the UK face harassment, insult and attack almost as a matter of routine, while a collective denial' among police, government and other public bodies means little is done to challenge the situation".
This is strong language. It seems so shocking that we might decide that it cannot possibly be true. Turn then to the Mencap study*2 that found police were consistently failing the victims of disability hate crime, or to the Scope report*3 that concluded that "widespread casual and institutional disablism in Britain creates the conditions where disability hate crime can flourish without being recognised or challenged".
According to a ComRes*4, some 47% of disabled people surveyed said that attitudes towards them have worsened over the past year while 66% claimed that they had experienced "aggression, hostility or name-calling". Taken to its extreme, this bullying leads to the tragic deaths of people such as Fiona Pilkington and Francecca Hardwick*5, Gemma Hayter*6 and Keith Philpott*7.
This is not just a problem in the UK, or even a recent problem caused by any one political party, but one faced by disabled people in France, Italy, Australia and elsewhere, as governments attempt to reduce the number of people claiming benefits by taking a "tough line". Is it any surprise that our neighbours feel less supportive if they are asked on a monthly basis to believe that most disabled people are simply "lazy", "fraudulent", "feckless" and "workshy"?*9
*2:Peter Walker “Police are failing people with learning disabilities, says study”http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jun/20/police-failing-learning-disabilities-study
*3:Getting Away With Murder： Disabled people’s experiences of hate crime in the UK http://www.scope.org.uk/sites/default/files/pdfs/Campaigns_policy/Scope_Hate_Crime_Report.pdf
*4:“Poll Digest - Social - Scope Discrimination Survey” http://www.comres.co.uk/poll/8/scope-discrimination-survey-15-may-2011.htm
*6:Nicky Clark “Disability hate crime begins with verbal abuse” http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2011/sep/13/gemma-hayter-disability-hate-crime-abuse
*7:“Murder terms increased by judges” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/tees/4720642.stm
*9:Owen Spottiswoode “Full Fact asks watchdog to intervene over inaccurate incapacity benefit reporting” http://fullfact.org/blog/disability_benefits_media_inaccuracy_welfare_reform-2860