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DISABLED Essex residents fall victim to hate crimes at a rate of almost one a day, according to figures released by Essex Police.
The force revealed that between September 2018 and August 2019, it received 361 reports of disability hate crimes.
Alleged offences included verbal abuse, malicious communications, attempted robbery, harassment and criminal damage.
Campaign group Disability Hate Crime UK added that even though such offences were ‘rising year on year’, they remained ‘massively under-reported’ and the true figures were likely much higher.
Essex Police agreed: “We know that hate crime against the disabled community remains under-reported and, as with most hate crimes, this under-reporting is often as a result of embarrassment or fear.”
The force is releasing data on hate crimes as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
The YA reported earlier that anti-LGBT hate crimes in Essex have risen by roughly 40 per cent in the last year and are now also occurring at a rate of almost one per day.
Tory Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst has called on Essex Police to ‘stamp out’ hate crime in all its forms, saying he is making it one of his priorities.
He described hate crimes as ‘repugnant’ and ‘wholly unacceptable in modern society’.
But this week, Basildon’s Labour mayor David Burton-Sampson – a Stonewall Award-winner and chairman of the borough’s Pride Committee – suggested Mr Hirst’s party-mates in central Government were helping to incite hate crimes.
He told the YA: “I think individuals seem to be assuming a rhetoric on a number of issues that, not so long ago, was not acceptable.
“Unfortunately, I think this comes from many people who are currently acting as leaders in this country and the world, who are giving licence to that sort of rhetoric – and to some people acting on their prejudices.
“This is not only happening to the LGBT+ community. It is also happening to other communities, such as those who belong to ethnic minorities.”
Last month, anti-hate crime organisation Tell Mama published a report saying that anti-Muslim hate crimes surged by 375 per cent in the week after now Prime Minister (then the Home Secretary)
Boris Johnson wrote in a column that Muslim women looked like ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’.
The report said that in many of the reported crimes, the abusers had used the exact same words as Mr Johnson.
Mr Johnson has also previously likened allowing gay marriage to permitting marriage between ‘three men and a dog’ and written a column referring to gay men as ‘tank-topped bumboys’.
He has claimed that his comments were ‘satirical’ and taken out of context.
But Cllr Burton-Sampson said: “Leaders need to take responsibility for the rhetoric that they use.”
In a statement, Mr Hirst said: “Essex Police has my full support in thoroughly investigating and pursuing the perpetrators of hate crime to bring them to justice.
“I encourage all victims of such crimes to report the incident and seek any help they need from the various organisations who are able to assist.
“Protecting vulnerable people is a key priority for me in my Police and Crime Plan for the county. We must stand together to stamp out hate crime in all its forms and ensure victims feel fully supported.”
Essex Police said in a statement: “Any form of hate crime around disabilities or impairments is unacceptable and we won’t stand for it.”
- Hate crimes can be reported to police by dialling 101 or, in an emergency, 999.
- Hate crimes can also be reported online at www.report-it.org.uk.
- Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime runs a helpline, which can be contacted at 0808 802 1155.
- Victim Support can be reached at 0808 1781 694.
- The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner’s office funds a 24-hour Stop Hate helpline in Essex. For more information, call 0800 138 1625 or visit www.victimsupport.org.uk