Page last updated at 07:09 GMT, Monday, 4 January 2010

Secret film uncovers 'disabled hate crime' in Wales


Footage of attacks on disabled people and their property was recorded for the programme

Some disabled people in Wales are suffering abuse and threats for no other reason than their disability, an investigation by BBC Wales has found.

Secretly recorded footage for the documentary Why Do You Hate Me? shows a wheelchair user being mocked and threatened in a bar.

In another incident a mother and daughter film an attacker smashing every window on their mobility car.

In Wales in 2009, police recorded 116 such incidents, with 18 convictions.

The programme, to be shown on BBC One Wales on Monday evening, reveals how many such incidents go unrecorded.

I think we haven't collectively picked them up and investigated and prosecuted them in the way we should
Kier Starmer QC, director of public prosecutions

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Kier Starmer QC, admitted that the justice system did not always get it right when dealing with so-called disability hate crime.

He said: "I think there are lots and lots of incidents of disability hate crime.

"I think we haven't collectively picked them up and investigated and prosecuted them in the way we should."

CCTV footage of vandal attack
A CCTV camera catches a vandal attacking Irene Miles' vehicle

The programme is presented by Simon Green, a wheelchair user from Bridgend, who secretly filmed a couple of his nights out to expose the hostility and abuse he sometimes experiences.

During one evening he was confronted by a group of men who verbally abuse him, swearing at him and calling him a "cripple", and suggesting he could really walk.

Mr Green, who has been a wheelchair user for six years, says during that time he has been physically, as well as verbally, assaulted because he is disabled.

'Nuisance to them'

And though the law has got tough on people who abuse others on the grounds of their race or religion, the attitude towards often low-level but continued abuse of disabled people seems far behind, the programme found.

Mr Green also met Irene Miles, 77, who was born disabled. She and her daughter Lorraine, who is her full-time carer, say they have suffered years of abuse at their Newport home.

Simon Green
Simon Green went under cover to film for the programme

The most recent attack was captured by a CCTV camera and shows a hooded man running around their vehicle, smashing every window before disappearing down the road. The vehicle is a lifeline for the family.

They said they have contacted police 60 times in the last five years, but only this latest incident, which happened last November, has been categorised as a hate crime.

Lorraine said: "I feel as though the police think we're a nuisance to them. I think now they're sitting up and taking note but the help for me and my mum has come far too late."

The family believe their case has similarities with the horrific story of Fiona Pilkington.

She killed herself and her disabled daughter, 18, in Leicestershire in 2007 after years of persistent abuse.

Gwent Police are now reviewing the handling of Lorraine and Irene's case.

Chief Supt Paul Symes says, "I will do my upmost to ensure that this is not a Pilkington case for Gwent Police. I'm aware of what the learning was within Pilkington, part of that involved some criticism around some perception that agencies weren't working together."

Campaigners say disability hate crimes are too often unreported by victims and under recorded by police but that this needs to change.

Why Do You Hate Me? is shown on Monday, 4 January on BBC One Wales at 2030 GMT.

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