DISABLED people in Hampshire and other parts of the UK have been hit by a 33 per cent increase in hate crime.

Police forces which responded to a Freedom of Information request recorded a total of 5,342 disability hate crimes in 2017-18, compared with 4,005 in the previous 12 months.

The figure for Hampshire was 248 - an increase of 76 on 2016-17.

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As reported in the Daily Echo, Southampton is the second worst city in the UK for hate crime as a whole. Almost 600 incidents were reported in 2016-17, a 30 per cent increase on the previous 12 months.

Organisations have launched a campaign to tackle the issue and make the city safer for everyone.

The initiative - Love Don’t Hate - is headed by the SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living, which aims to ensure disabled people lead full, independent lives free from discrimination.


Groups aim toraise awareness, improve the reporting process and encourage everyone to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime.

Ian Loynes, chief executive of SPECTRUM, said: “It is unacceptable that in a city like Southampton people are being allowed to get away with treating others unfairly and maliciously because of their differences.

“We want those personally affected by hate crime - and those witnessing it - to speak out.”

The new national figures for 2017-18 have been published by the charity United Response and were compiled ahead of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, which started on Saturday.

Crimes against disabled people have included arson, robbery and fraud.

Joanne Silkstone, the charity's hate crime lead, said: “It beggars belief that people are targeting some of society’s most vulnerable people and doing them harm.

“We all must do everything we can to empower those who suffer this type of appalling abuse and discrimination to speak out.

“Victims must know that they need not suffer in silence. With the right tools, we can help them to report these crimes to the police."

The charity suspects that the number of disability hate crimes is far higher than the official figures suggest.

Tim Cooper, the chief executive, said: “Often this is a hidden and under-reported crime. Victims sometimes lack the confidence in coming forward and reporting their experiences to the authorities. Sometimes they don’t realise they have been a victim of hate crime.

“That's is why it's crucial to equip people with disabilities with the knowledge they need to stand up to bullies and bigots.”

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