To combat violence against people with disabilities—which is statistically the most underreported form of hate crime—police departments should better educate their staff to identify and report the crimes, recommend the authors of a study published this month in the United Kingdom-based Howard Journal of Criminal Justice. In addition to police training, the authors of “The Dark Figure of Disablist Violence” point to the need for more outreach to people with disabilities, public awareness campaigns and special policing units dedicated to investigating hate crime.
“A lack of support and accessibility issues create intimidating environments, while a lack of con?dence in police—in terms of competency and capacity—creates obstacles to reporting disablist violence,” write Nicole L. Asquith, an associate professor at the University of Western Sydney's (Australia) School of Social Sciences and Psychology, and Ryan Thorneycroft, a PhD candidate at the school. “Even when an incident of disablist violence is reported, seeking justice may be hampered by inaccurate and unsound data recording and collection.”
The 2012 report on disablist violence from the FBI, which has the world's most extensive dataset on this type of hate crime, found that there were 102 victims in the United States. The FBI’s 2013 report said there were 92 disability victims that year. Between 1997 (when the FBI began keeping records on disablist violence) and 2012, there were 835 reported incidents—the majority of them being simple assault, intimidation and destruction/vandalism.
Read the study here.