DAA News Network

Enough is enough – stop hate crime against disabled people now!

Posted 05/10-09 at 17.28

On June 11, 1963, Thich Quang Duc, a Buddhist monk, doused himself with petrol and then lit a match. He burned to death at a busy intersection in Saigon. He was protesting about the mistreatment of fellow Buddhists by the Vietnamese government. His dramatic death is said to have fundamentally changed public opinion about the war.

Under UK news  we have reported the similarly horrific self-inflicted deaths of Fiona Pilkington and her daughter Francecca in a burning car by the side of the road. Will their deaths have the same impact? Will it raise awareness of the devastating effect of hate crime against disabled people? Will it create a public outcry?

An outcry has certainly erupted, with the story making headline news and ministers becoming involved. Also, the Independent Police Complaints Commission is going to hold an enquiry. This is to be welcomed, but will the issue of hate crime against disabled people be fully addressed?

We hope it will be, for although particularly ghastly, what led to this incident - sustained low level harassment together with more brutal attacks and the failure of the authorities to respond - is all too common for disabled people in the UK. Also, as the DAA Human Rights Database shows, the most extreme human rights violations against disabled people throughout the world are a longstanding and continuing problem.

In the 2008 report, Getting Away With Murder. Disabled people's experiences of hate crime in the UK, a grim picture is given of how some disabled people have been brutalized, tormented and murdered simply because they are disabled. However, notwithstanding the extreme severity of the crimes, the report states that, ‘...disability hate crime remains largely invisible. Its existence is frequently denied, disabled people who report it are routinely ignored, and its perpetrators often go unpunished."

The Disability Now Hate Crime Dossier lists 51 serious crimes against disabled people since mid-2006. Despite strong evidence that in many of the cases the perpetrators targeted their victims because they were disabled, only two of these were considered by the police to have been hate crimes.

We have battled for decades to get recognition that disability as a human rights issue. We have gone on the streets to demonstrate for access to the built environment, access to information and access to transport. We have fought and continue to fight for genuine independent living, for jobs and for our basic right to life. However, the gains we have made and will make must be shared by all. This will not happen as long as disabled people and their families are bullied, abused, forced to suffer in silence and cannot feel safe within our communities.


Hate crimes against disabled people must be stopped now.

The failure of the police and social services to recognise and respond to disability hate crimes must be challenged now.

Local DPOs must step up and shout. They must make their members, the public and the authorities aware of the reality and shocking impact of disability hate crime.

Justice for Fiona and Francceca!

A detailed analysis of this issue, together with recommendations of what needs to be done can be found in, Getting Away With Murder. Disabled people's experiences of hate crime in the UK.


Also see: http://www.respond.org.uk/campaigns/disability_hate_crime.html">http://www.disabilitynow.org.uk/the-hate-crime-dossier http://www.respond.org.uk/campaigns/disability_hate_crime.html


Comment added 22/11-09 at 01.21 by: Mark McDougall (markmcdougall@mail.com)

Fantastic article. Written with compassion and contempt for the unjust UK system. The UK system does not allow for disabled people to be treated equally and fairly. My wife has a disability. She is the most lovely person you will ever meet. She has been physically assaulted and laughed at by UK Social Workers. We MUST change this rotten system so that these Social Workers pay for their actions. If your wife had a disability and you witnessed her being laughed at and physically assaulted by a UK Social Worker, what would you do?

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