Hate crime against disabled soars by 156 per cent

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A CALL has been made for better education and understanding as figures show a 156 per cent increase in hate crime against disabled people.

Chas Sandhu, pastor of Spalding’s Lighthouse Pentecostal Church and an active member of a Spalding disability action group, said those with physical and mental disabilities often suffer taunts and worse because they are “easy targets”.

And he says many of the problems boil down to people’s fears of the unknown and lack of understanding.

His action group is planning a campaign to improve education within local shops and forums to raise awareness of the issues faced by disabled people with a view to breaking down barriers.

He said: “We are looking at how we can make people aware of the difficulties people with disability face.

“All disabled people want is to be treated equally, so people need to be educated about the differences and taught to respect them.”

Mr Sandhu, who also used to work with people with learning disabilities, says he has heard of a number of incidents of disabled people being called names, taunted, and one of a disabled person having their wallet stolen by a tormenter.

But he says disability hate crime in Spalding and surrounding area is “low-level” compared to some areas.

Latest figures for the county back up that assertion, showing just 23 incidents recorded by Lincolnshire Police in 2011.

That figure has risen by 156 per cent, from just nine incidents in 2010.

But Lincolnshire Police diversity officer Melanie Cowell said the increase was a “positive thing” as a lot of work has been carried out to raise awareness and promote the reporting of hate crimes.