National Safeguarding Adults Week - Disability Hate Crime

We’re leading off the National Safeguarding Adults Week with some information on Disability Hate Crime, a topic that all our clubs should be aware of to ensure their sessions are as safe and inclusive as possible.

A disability hate crime is a criminal offence motivated by hatred or prejudice towards a person because of their actual or perceived disability. The incident can be a one-off or it can be a series of ongoing harassments.

Despite initial assumptions that it is only strangers to a victim that commit these crimes, it can also be carers, neighbours, family members or someone that was considered a friend. This can be known as “mate crime”. People with learning disabilities are at high risk of ‘mate crime’. This is a form of disability hate crime in which the victim is abused and manipulated by someone they believed to be their friend. In a study conducted by the National Autistic Society (NAS) in 2014, 49% of adults with autism reported that they had been abused by someone they thought of as a friend.

So how can you spot this kind of thing within your club? Forms of disability hate crime may include:

  • Verbal and physical abuse
  • Threatening behaviour
  • Damage to property
  • Online abuse
  • Stalking and harassment

The number of hate crimes recorded by the police have more than doubled in the last 5 years. Despite this rise, many people with disabilities still do not report the crimes that have happened to them due to lack of confidence or a lack of understanding that what has happened to them is a crime.

It is important to discuss disability hate crime because cases often go unreported. The Basketball England Adults at Risk policy does cover Disability Hate Crime under section 5.1.4 and 5.2.2, and the Ann Craft Trust has a wealth of advice and content relating to the subject if your club would like to know more. Also, ensure that all members of your club are aware of who the safeguarding officer is in your club or association, not just those who are under 18. That way if someone does need to talk or discuss something that is happening, they know where to go.