Hate Crime

By:A.C.

In researching this article about ‘hate crime’ against the disabled, I was faced with a barrage of statistics and conflicting reasons for what is legislated here.

“Hate crime involves any criminal offence motivated by malice and ill-will towards a social group. Hate crime can be motivated by disability, sexual orientation, race, religion or faith”.

The Scottish Government enacted The Offences (Aggravation by Prejudice) (Scotland) Act 2009 and it came into force in March 2010. Although its main thrust was to deal with sectarian, religious and gender hatred, also included in that legislation was an aggravation to any crime on a those who are disabled.

There are problems in that even if proof exists of prejudice and hate, but the substantive charge cannot be proved then all of the charge falls. This was reported last year at a Hate Crime Conference in Glasgow by Frank Mulholland The Lord Advocate.

Like all research, one has to ask questions, and sometimes reaching conclusions from any data is very difficult, though like many people, I see headlines in the press that scream against Islam, Immigration, Gay Marriages, and of course the disabled being benefit scroungers and fraudsters, which clearly create an atmosphere of discontent and scapegoating which is encouraged by the press, for what I personally see as manipulative political reasons.

However, I think that would take a lengthy research study by Aberdeen or RGU Universities to show the co-relation.

This article in the Guardian reported just last month about a blind couple suffering almost daily abuse at the hands of group of local youths is indeed typical of the type of crime reported.

I asked Police Scotland to reveal in a Freedom of Information request exclusive to the A.A.D. blog how many “hate crimes” specifically against the disabled were reported in the old Grampian Police area from 2009 -2013.

The figures are as follows:

2008 – 7 reports
2009 – 2010 – 24
2011 – 13
2012 – 6
2013 – 2

There are probably different ways at looking at the spike in the number of reports in the period from 2009 -2011.
Was the spike caused by the existence of the legislation enacted in 2010, and the fact that Police would now be specifically recording the aggravation of the crime? Was more action being taken in other words?

What else happened in the year 2010?

There was also huge Welfare Reform, Disability Assessments, ATOS etc, which although set in train by the previous Government, was unleashed in a financial state of austerity.

This combined with a torrent of TV programmes and negative publicity about benefit scroungers and disability fraudsters only seemed to add to a febrile atmosphere.

The good news for the North–East of Scotland is that hate crime against the disabled was only recorded twice in 2013.
Let’s hope that is because there is little or no hate crime – and not because folk feel unable to report such matters.

I think one has to look at the way organisations such as charities or the police raise awareness in their own organisations, schools or groups to make everyone aware of what hate–crime is. In so doing, they also engender tolerance in the young.

If you are the victim of hate Crime but feel nervous about going to a Police Station, then there is the Third Party Reporting System.

Appendix and Links to current data:

“In 2012-13, 138 charges were reported with an aggravation of prejudice relating to disability, more than double the number reported in 2011-12. Increased awareness by victims of disability hate crime that such offensive behaviour should not be tolerated may account for the increase in reporting. There is a broad consensus however that this type of crime continues to be under reported compared to other forms of hate crime.

Court proceedings were commenced in respect of 90 charges (65%) reported in 2012-13. In total 100 (72%) charges led to court proceedings, including those not separately prosecuted, but which may have been incorporated into other charges for the same accused.

No action was taken in respect of 17 charges (12%) reported in 2012-13. The most common reason for taking no action was the lack of sufficient admissible evidence for the substantial charge even though there was sufficient evidence for the disability aggravation associated with the charge. If there are no proceedings on the substantial charge, there can be no proceedings on an aggravation associated with the charge.

At the time of publication, 11 charges (8%) are awaiting the outcome of further enquiries before a final decision on proceedings is taken.”

http://www.crownoffice.gov.uk/media-site/latest-news-from-copfs/327-hate-crime-in-scotland-2012-13
http://www.copfs.gov.uk/images/Documents/Equality_Diversity/Hate%20Crime%20in%20Scotland%202012-13.pdf

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