Policing Disability Hate Crime

Published 10/10/2022
Type Article
Author(s) Louise Hewitt
Corresponding Authors


There is no aggravated offence for disability hate crime (DHC). The current legislation fails to place the disability characteristic on an equal footing with the characteristics of race and religion (for which there are aggravated offences). The effect of this is evident not only in law, which does not adequately punish the perpetrators of DHC, but also in the actions of the police who find it difficult to recognise and record DHC. In its 2021 report on hate crime laws the Law Commission has echoed its previous recommendation made in 2014 to extend aggravated offences that currently exist for race and religion to all other existing characteristics including disability. No changes were made in response to the 2014 report, and it is unlikely immediate changes will be made following the 2021 report. The police, however, are in a position to change how the current law relating to DHC is implemented if they improve their recognition and recording of it. This article examines the Metropolitan Police Service response to DHC, making recommendations that if implemented could have a national effect on how DHC is approached by the police.