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Last Updated: Monday, 5 April, 2004, 11:41 GMT 12:41 UK
Disabled 'are hate crime targets'
Woman in wheelchair
Disabled organisations are seeking tougher laws
Many disabled people are silently enduring harassment and attacks motivated by prejudice, it is claimed.

The findings are the result of research conducted by the disability charity Capability Scotland and the Disability Rights Commission.

Half of the people questioned in the survey said they had been the target of a hate motivated crime.

Ministers are now promising to look at introducing legislation to protect disabled people.

Laws already exist to outlaw racial and sectarian attacks.

The Scottish Executive's consultation on new measures to protect people from hate crimes finishes at the end of this month.

'Get tough' call

Almost 160 disabled people took part in the study.

Nearly half said they had experienced verbal abuse, intimidation or physical attacks because of their disability.

More than a third of incidents were physical attacks and almost a third said they experienced attacks at least once a month.

Experts found there was a general perception among disabled people that the police could not help. Only 40% of victims report incidents to the police.

This report provides concrete proof that many disabled people live in constant fear of attack and harassment
Bob Benson
DRC Scottish director
A third of those questioned had to avoid specific places and change their routine due to attacks, while one in four had moved home.

The DRC and Capability Scotland are now calling for changes to the law to protect disabled people against hate crime.

They also want a campaign to tackle prejudice against disability.

DRC Scottish director Bob Benson said: "This report provides concrete proof that many disabled people live in constant fear of attack and harassment.

"It is completely unacceptable that in the 21st century people find themselves victims of physical and verbal abuse and other types of crime, simply because they are perceived to be different.

There is no place in Scotland for crimes motivated by prejudice and discrimination
Scottish Executive
"The DRC has consistently called for changes in the law to recognise hate crime against disabled people and tougher penalties for convicted offenders, to bring Scotland into line with what is already happening in England and Wales."

Michelle Hegarty, of Capability Scotland, said: "This research has revealed the ugly silent hatred which many people face as part of their everyday lives.

"This is the kind of hatred which scares and humiliates people and can greatly impact on your life - even to the extent of having to change job or home.

"Perhaps the most telling thing from this research is that most people are not confident that they can get help to stop the attacks and that's why we strongly call for new legislation and better support to prevent these types of hate crime."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "There is no place in Scotland for crimes motivated by prejudice and discrimination.

"A working group on hate crime has been set up to look at these issues and it is currently consulting.

"This survey will contribute to this and the final report is due to ministers this summer."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Ian Hamilton reports
"Disabled people say they are being abused in the street, in shops and on public transport"



SEE ALSO:
'My disability made me a target'
05 Apr 04  |  Scotland
Disabled people 'victims of hate'
27 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Move to help Scotland's disabled
28 Oct 02  |  Scotland
Tourist trade 'failing' disabled
14 Oct 02  |  Scotland


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