FROM violence and assault to harassment and online abuse, the number of hate crimes against disabled people in Cheshire has risen by 30 per cent in the past year.

According to police figures, 239 disability hate crimes were recorded in the county last year, a significant increase on the 185 crimes reported in 2018-19.

More than one in 10 of these crimes was classed by the authorities as ‘violence’ - incidents which included assault and harassment towards disabled people.

However, only six of the total disability hate crimes committed in Cheshire between April 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020 resulted in a police charge for the perpetrator.

The data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act also shows an increase in digital disability hate crimes, rising from just 14 in 2018-19 to 41 last year.

National learning disability charities Leonard Cheshire and United Response have highlighted these figures during National Disability Hate Crime Awareness Week, which runs until Friday, October 17.

A  statement from both organisations said: “As this abhorrent crime continues to rise year on year, it’s time for the authorities, Government and online platforms to start taking this damaging behaviour more seriously.

“Offenders must face appropriate repercussions and be educated on the impact of their cowardly acts, while increased funding for advocacy services is also urgently needed. Victims need to have better access to support across the entire reporting, investigative and judicial process.

"This is the only way to make victims feel safe and confident in reporting these crimes to the police, helping lead to more concrete charges and ultimately convictions.

“With online hate crime showing no signs of slowing down, provisions also need to be made to make the internet a less threatening place for disabled people with effective monitoring and recording of hateful activity.

"Disabled people must also be involved in the development of digital strategies to help ensure this type of damaging behaviour doesn’t slip through the cracks.”

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