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Study Focused On Hate Crimes Against Scots With Disabilities
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 5, 2004

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND--A joint study released Monday by Scotland's leading disability organization and national disability rights watchdog reveals that a large percentage of Scots with disabilities have been targets of hate crimes.

The 50-page study, entitled "Hate Crime Against Disabled People in Scotland: A Survey Report", is considered by the authors to be the first piece of research to look in-depth at hate crimes which Scots with disabilities experience.

Nearly 160 people with disabilities took part in the study.

Almost half of the respondents said that they had experienced verbal abuse, intimidation or physical attacks because of their disability. More than one-third of those incidents were of a physical nature. Nearly one-third said that they experienced attacks at least once a month.

Respondents said that most of the attacks were carried out by strangers in public places. As a result of the crimes, around three quarters of those questioned said they had made significant changes in their lives in order to feel safe. Around a third responded that they had to change their routines or avoid specific places, while twenty-five percent said they had moved entirely.

Most of those surveyed said they believed the police were of no help. Only 40 percent had reported the attacks to authorities. Some said that reporting the crimes only made things worse after the police left.

The study's authors recommended that hate crime laws be changed to protect people with disabilities; that police devise "innovative approaches" to how to support crime victims with disabilities -- some of whom may have trouble communicating with police; and that a sustained long-term campaign be launched "to tackle the prejudice which some people in society have towards disabled people."

"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," said DRC Scottish director Bob Benson in a press statement. "We hope this research will make a valuable contribution to the current debate on hate crime and encourage Scottish ministers to come up with new initiatives to tackle the problem."

"Hate Crime Against Disabled People in Scotland: A Survey Report" (Disability Rights Commission / Capability Scotland)

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'My disability made me a target' (BBC News)


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