Disabled campaigners and their allies have called on the transport secretary to restore “vital” government funding for projects to improve access to rail stations across England, Wales and Scotland. In a letter signed by more than 50 organisations, Transport for All (TfA) – which campaigns for an accessible transport system – calls on Chris Grayling to restore tens of millions of pounds of funding for the Access for All scheme that has been deferred by the government. The letter says that deferring half of all planned Access for All projects means that the “already slow progress on rail access has all but ground to a halt”. The decision by the chair of Network Rail – later rubber-stamped by Grayling – to cut Access for All funding for 2014-19 from £102 million to £55 million, with the rest carried over to 2019-24, was first revealed by Disability News Service last year. The letter has been sent as Grayling is due today (Thursday) to announce future levels of Network Rail funding, which
Disabled campaigners say they are encouraged by a new public statement from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which describes how it will prosecute disability hate crime.
The statement was one of a series published by CPS that cover the different strands of hate crime, with others covering racist and religious hate crime; and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime.
Its publication came only days after the Disability Hate Crime Network (DHCN) wrote to the solicitor general to warn him that that “alarm bells are ringing” over the “massive discrepancies and inconsistencies” in the way the criminal justice system deals with disability hate crime prosecutions.
That letter pointed to the network’s “deep dismay” that six recent court cases involving violent attacks on disabled people – reported last month by Disability News Service (DNS) – had not been treated as disability hate crimes.
In its new statement, CPS pledges to “identify disability hate crimes and other offences targeted at disabled people as early as possible”, “build strong cases with our partners”, “remind the court of its powers to increase a sentence” under section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 if there is evidence of disability hate crime*, and “apply for an increased sentence in all other cases where disability is an aggravating factor in the case”.
The statement also includes a commitment to the social model of disability, and a recognition that the belief that disabled people “are somehow inherently vulnerable, weak and easy targets is an attitude that motivates some crimes against disabled people”.
But it also states that some crimes are committed “because the offender perceives the disabled person to be vulnerable and not because the offender dislikes or hates the person or disabled people”, and are therefore not disability hate crimes.
CPS says that any such evidence will still be put before the court – even if the offence was not a hate crime – so that “the sentence reflects the gravity of such offending”.
It also promises that it will “not make assumptions about a disabled victim’s reliability or credibility, and [will] challenge
Disabled campaigners have written to a government minister to warn him that “alarm bells are ringing” over the “massive discrepancies and inconsistencies” in the way the criminal justice system deals with disability hate crime prosecutions. The Disability Hate Crime Network says there is “increasing concern” over these failings. And it has asked solicitor general Robert Buckland to create “tighter and understandably clear guidance”, and to pressure the system to comply with the rules on disability hate crime. Stephen Brookes, a coordinator of the network, says in the letter that he and his colleagues felt “deep dismay” that six recent court cases involving violent attacks on disabled people – reported last month by Disability News Service (DNS) – had not been treated as disability hate crimes. Three of the six cases, spread across England and Wales, were murders, another saw the offender jailed for manslaughter, while two victims survived the violent assaults. One case saw a man with
Disabled campaigners have written to a government minister to warn him that “alarm bells are ringing” over the “massive discrepancies and inconsistencies” in the way the criminal justice system deals with disability hate crime prosecutions.
The Disability Hate Crime Network says there is “increasing concern” over these failings.
And it has asked solicitor general Robert Buckland to create “tighter and understandably clear guidance”, and to pressure the system to comply with the rules on disability hate crime.
Stephen Brookes, a coordinator of the network, says in the letter that he and his colleagues felt “deep dismay” that six recent court cases involving violent attacks on disabled people – reported last month by Disability News Service (DNS) – had not been treated as disability hate crimes.
A chief constable has insisted that his police force was right not to treat the brutal murder of a man with learning difficulties who was hung from a tree and beaten to death by two “friends” as a disability hate crime. Disabled campaigners had criticised the failings of Leicestershire police following the murder of 23-year-old Brendan Mason. It is now 10 years since the deaths of Francecca and Fiona Pilkington, which led to the same police force being heavily criticised by the police watchdog for failing to protect the Pilkington family from years of harassment, and failing to recognise those offences as disability hate crime. Brendan Mason was found with serious injuries in Abbey Park, Leicester, on the morning of 5 July last year, and died later that day in hospital. He had been lured to the park, stripped of his clothes and hung from a tree and subjected to what police called a “vicious, sustained attack”, which was filmed by his attackers on their mobile phones and lasted for several
The latest attempts by politicians and charities to push for a solution to the social care funding crisis risk ignoring the voices of service-users, according to disabled campaigners. They spoke out as representatives of the social care and health sector and a cross-party group of MPs tried to put further pressure on the government over the need for more funding. An open letter to the prime minister, signed by 75 individuals and organisations across the health and social care sector, was published on the same day that Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb issued a joint statement from cross-party MPs that warned of “very serious” consequences if the government did not take immediate action to deal with the “unsustainable strain” on the NHS and the social care system. Lamb then raised the issue at this week’s prime minister’s questions, and Theresa May agreed to meet his group of MPs. Both the open letter – drafted originally by the older people’s charity Independent Age
MPs have heard evidence from two leading disabled campaigners about the shortage of affordable, accessible housing across the country. Zara Todd, chair of Inclusion London, and Sue Bott, deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK (DR UK), were giving evidence to the women and equalities committee for its inquiry into disability and the built environment. Bott told the committee that DR UK had heard from one disabled man who had to crawl up the stairs of his rented property to get to his bathroom and bedroom. After years of waiting on his local housing trust’s list for an accessible property, he was told he was no longer eligible to be on that list because of a rule change. Bott said the trust was having to cope with the “squeeze” on accessible one-bedroom properties caused by disabled people having to downsize because of the government’s bedroom tax. Todd, who also works for the Norfolk disabled people’s organisation (DPO) Equal Lives, said she had contacted 22 letting agents in
Disabled campaigners are calling for the resignation of the equality watchdog’s disability commissioner, the disabled Tory peer Lord [Chris] Holmes, after he voted in favour of disability benefit c…
Disabled campaigners have expressed alarm after work began on a huge new “care village” for autistic adults, despite concerns raised by the local council. The £4 million project will see a 40-unit “specialist care centre” on land in North Shields, with the first residents expected to move in early next year. The project is headed by Lenore Specialist Care, a company that already runs a 23-bed residential home for adults with learning difficulties in nearby Whitley Bay. The local authority, North Tyneside council, appeared to demonstrate its approval through a photograph sent out by Triodos, the “ethical” bank funding the scheme, which showed the council’s chair, Cllr Gary Bell, digging the first turf, although the council later blamed an administrative error for Bell’s decision to take part. Such a scheme contrasts with the government’s national autism strategy, Think Autism, which says that adults with autism “should be able to benefit fully from mainstream public services to live
More than one in seven people have witnessed a disability hate crime or incident in the last year, according to a new survey released to mark Holocaust Memorial Day. Disabled campaigners say the figures, published by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, should push the criminal justice system to do more to recognise and act on the problem. According to the survey, 15 per cent of people have witnessed at least one disability-related hate crime or hate incident in the last year, while more than two-thirds of those who witnessed a hate crime or incident regretted not challenging it. And more than one-third of those who witnessed a disability-related hate crime or incident saw at least four such instances, while nearly one in 20 witnessed at least 10. Anne Novis, an independent advisor on disability hate crime to the Metropolitan police, a trustee of Inclusion London and a coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, said the figures were not a surprise. She said disabled people were “well