Weekly Poll Results – Hate Crime Bill (Week Beginning 22 June 2020)

Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue.  For the week beginning 22 June, we asked  questions about the Hate Crime Bil. 

Question 1. Do you think the new bill will improve on existing legislation for hate crime in Scotland?

  • YES – 68% (32 respondents)
  • NO – 32% (15 respondents)

Question 2. Does the bill give the right protections for disabled people?

  •  YES – 57% (26 respondents)
  • NO – 43% (20 respondents)

 Question 3. Are there any groups that are overlooked in the bill? 

  •  YES – 32% (12 respondents)
  • NO – 68% (26 respondents)

Comments

The following is a summary of the main themes and key concerns of our members regarding the hate crime bill.  We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.

Recognising Hate Crime

 Most respondents (68%) agreed that the new bill improves on existing hate crime legislation. However, there are several factors that must be taken into consideration to ensure disabled people receive the right protections. Recent stats show an increase in disability hate crime, although it is still significantly under-reported. There are many reasons why disability hate crime is under-reported, including failure to recognise it as a crime, fear of making the situation worse and a lack of confidence to report it.

“I have reported hate crime to police but been dissuaded from taking it further as it would be hard to prove without witnesses. I was on my own at the time and felt scared. It prevented me going out for several weeks and even at that I wouldn’t go out on my own.”

“It’s too hard to actually get the offence to court unless there are witnesses and people normally pick on you when you’re on your own or when they are in groups so their witnesses outweigh yours.”

“The bill overlooks lots of folks that don’t consider themselves disabled & those that do not understand what hate crime looks like.”

At Disability Equality Scotland we host the Disability Safety Hub, (www.disabilitysafety.scot) a website we developed in partnership with Police Scotland to help disabled people recognise hate crime and encourage them to report it. 

Defining Hate Crime

 Some respondents were unclear on how disability is defined within the bill. From a public recognition perspective, it may be beneficial to explicitly state the broadness of the definition to ensure the general public are aware of the varied nature of disability, including hidden disabilities. 

 “What does the word disabled cover? Will the Bbll cover a list of disabilities?”

“Not all disabilities are visible.”

 Hate Crime Incidents

 A few respondents felt that more could be done to distinguish the variables between hate crime and hate incidents.

“Disabled people like me who have to experience repeated hate incidents, rather than hate crimes, for which the police is not interested. Hate incidents are wrong and very unpleasant yet the police don’t even bother to speak to the perpetrators so what is the point in reporting any hate incident/crime to the police as they do nothing about them.”

“Something like this is needed as the verbal abuse I have received as a disabled person has always seemed a bit ‘light’ to involve the police.”

 Public Awareness Campaign

There was agreement from respondents that alongside the bill there must be an awareness campaign to help influence the attitudes and behaviours of the general public towards disabled people.  

 “It improves the legislation but will it improve/change lives? People will only be protected if there is sufficient public awareness campaigning and policing response etc.”

 “There will be other groups that are not covered but what is needed is a public education campaign and behaviour changes.”

“Zero tolerance campaigns and public education is needed. I have been subjected to hate crime on a few occasions especially when people have been drinking.”

COVID-19 Hate Crime

 There has also been an increase in disability hate crime during the COVID-19 pandemic, with disabled people being accused of breaking lockdown and spreading the virus.

“It is the attitude of people that needs changed. Some people think that it is okay to have a go at disabled people as has been seen during the coronavirus pandemic. Disabled people being accused of breaking lockdown or causing the coronavirus.”

“Carers and unpaid carers/families of disabled people are now being targeted for hate crime as they believe as they care for disabled people they carry the virus.”

 Hate Crime Charter

At Disability Equality Scotland, we have been working with partners at Transport Scotland, Stagecoach East, First Scotland East and ScotRail to pilot a new Hate Crime Charter. The aim of the Pilot is to encourage transport providers, members of the public and other services to support a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime. We have recently extended the pilot to the ferries network in partnership with CalMac. This will provide further insight and inform the national roll out of the Charter in 2021.

Disability Equality Scotland, July 2020