Disabled are targeted as some hate crime goes up in Islington

Concern over ‘harassment and assaults’

Friday, 2nd November 2018 — By Emily Finch

Andy Greene

Andy Greene of Disability Action in Islington, which is based in Canonbury

DISABLED residents are experiencing a surge in random acts of hate crime, an activist has warned.

Town Hall figures also revealed that Islington had the highest number of disability hate crime offences recorded in the capital over the past year, including online bullying, verbal and physical abuse and damaging property.

Andy Greene, general manager at Disability Action in Islington, said: “We are not a reporting centre for hate crime but we have a steady flow of residents who face anti-social behaviour and harassment and assault. It’s increasing year on year. We’ve seen a move away from hate crime against disabled residents from their neighbours but we’re hearing more about randomised attacks.”

Crime performance figures that went before a scrutiny committee at Islington Council this week show 28 disability hate crimes were reported to police in the past year, compared to 17 in the year before.

Mr Greene, 43, who heads the action group which is based in Canonbury, said the high number may be explained by disabled residents being more aware of their rights. He said: “We also have a disproportionately high percentage of disabled people among our residents compared to other boroughs. I think there were serious issues about gathering data around disability hate crime in the past which is now being improved.”

But Mr Greene also warned that there is a negative portrayal of disabled people across the country that is fuelling hate crime. He said: “There’s a narrative that the reason you have less money in your pocket is because disabled people are given too much money and people are feeling validated to attack disabled people.”

The figures also reveal an increase in transgender hate crime offences, from 10 reported incidents between 2016 to 2017, to 19 in the past year.

Recorded Islamophobic offences were down by around 50 per cent in the past year compared to the previous year, while racist hate crime offences were also down by 12.4 per cent. But antisemitic offences had increased from 13 to 23, while homophobic hate crime offences also increased by 22.7 per cent.

Islington Council’s crime chief, Andy Hull, said the council had been encouraging the reporting of hate crime by victims which may explain some of the increased figures.

He added: “Tackling hate crime is one of five priorities for the Safer Islington Partnership. We have made a sustained, collective effort to address it in the borough, so we are pleased to see the overall level of hate crime reduce locally over the past year. Tackling each and every form of crime, however, is only made harder by short-sighted central government cuts which have meant that Islington alone has lost 300 police officers since 2010.”

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