Disabled people are being encouraged to report hate crime and not just accept it as ‘a way of life’, a police chief has said.
Inspector James Willis, head of diversity said: “Last year, just 106 disability hate crime incidents were reported to Thames Valley Police.
“While low crime figures may be seen as encouraging, in reality we think there are disability hate incidents and crimes which are going unreported.
“This could be due to fear of repercussions after speaking to the police, not realising that what is happening to them is a crime in the first place or victims could believe nothing will be done to support them.
“Most astonishingly of all, I am aware that some people genuinely believe that being targeted because of their disability is just a way of life for them.
“This is absolutely not the case and I want to encourage people to report any incident where they have been targeted and they believe it is because they have a disability.
“Thames Valley Police will not tolerate any hate crime or incident and police are able to intervene in these incidents but it is important that the incidents are reported in the first place.
“I want to encourage anyone who may be suffering as a victim or who may be witnessing this type of crime to please report it to police as soon as possible by calling 101.”
Alternatively, victims or witnesses can contact independent charities such as Stop Hate UK or True Vision in confidence.
Police describe hate crime as ‘any crime or incident whereby the victim believes that they have been targeted because they have a disability.’
Incidents can include name calling, verbal abuse, criminal damage or doing anything to make victims feel unsafe.