A disability hate incident is defined as:

Any incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person's disability or perceived disability.

This means that a hate incident is when anyone feels they have been picked on or targeted because of their disability. The victim or the witnesses' perception is used to 'early-identify' if an incident is motivated by hostility towards the victim's disability.

Disability hate incidents also include the following:

  • disability hate by association: sometimes you may experience disability hate incidents through your association with a disabled person, for example, as carers or family members
  • presumed disability: incidents where an offender has mistakenly believed that the victim is disabled

Early-identification will ensure that the relevant agencies (such as police, local authority, schools, housing associations, residential care homes and the NHS) take into account the element of prejudice towards disabled people in their investigation.

What direct disability hate incidents are

  • physical abuse – spitting, punching, kicking, slapping, pushing or behaviour which leads to physical injury
  • threats – words of a threatening nature, for example “I’m going to beat you up” or “I’m going to get you and your family”
  • verbal abuse – name calling, swearing, abusive telephone calls
  • sexual abuse – this can be abuse including degradation, rape, assault
  • written/printed abuse – letters by post, leaflets or posters using prejudiced language, abusive text messages etc. against disabled people
  • graffiti/ disability hate language or images –  written/drawn onto property
  • attacks on property/home – deliberate damage to your home or assistive equipment. Eggs/stones thrown at property, tyres slashed, windows broken
  • harassment – persistent intimidating or threatening behaviour which is spread over a period of time

Who a disabled person is

Under the Equality Act 2010 a person has a disability if they have:

  • a physical or mental impairment
  • the impairment has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities

Guidance on the definition of disability on GOV.UK.

Please note that these are the same as under Disability Discrimination Act.

The social model of disability distinguishes between 'impairment' (functional limitations of mind, body, or senses) and 'disability' (disadvantage or restrictions of activity placed by the society).  A key concept of the social model is that society disables people by the way things are arranged. Organise things differently, and they are suddenly enabled - though the impairment has not changed. The social model regards disability as

‘The loss of or limitation of opportunities to take part in the normal life of the community on an equal level with others due to physical or social barriers.’

The above definition focuses on removing barriers that prevent disabled people's participation as citizens.

Disabled people include people with:

  • physical disabilities or who find it difficult to move around
  • sensory disabilities or who can not hear or see, or who find it difficult to hear or see
  • learning disabilities
  • mental illness
  • long term conditions

In April 2005, the law was changed by section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Section 146 imposed a duty upon courts to increase the sentence for any offence (for example, assault or criminal damage) aggravated by hostility based on the victim’s disability or presumed disability. For the purposes of Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, disability is defined as ‘any physical or mental impairment.’

How to report a disability hate incident

We take hate incidents against disabled people seriously and have developed a number of options to make it easier for you to report. If you have experienced or witnessed a disability hate incident, you can report it in a number of ways to the police or to the Safer Communities Team.

How to report to the police

People with hearing or speech impairment can contact police via

  • Emergency Text Services 65999, you will find further instruction on the use of Emergency Text Services
  • Typetalk Emergency Line 18000
  • if it is not an emergency then you can use textphone on 18001 101

Sussex Police regard a disability hate incident as a strategy incident, and treat it seriously and will respond as soon as possible.

If you need a sign or language interpreter, the police will be able to provide you with one.

True-Vision online reporting to the local police

You can report all incidents that are motivated by the prejudice of the offender, also known as hate incidents or crimes. For example, racist, religiously motivated, homophobic, biphobic, transphobic, and disability hate incidents may be reported through these forms and the True-Vision online facility to the police. You can report all hate incidents or crimes that you may have been the victim of, witnessed, or are reporting on behalf of someone else through the True-Vision website.

  • choose the local police force, for example, to report incidents in Brighton & Hove, please choose, Sussex Police from the drop down menu and then click on the Go To Form link below it
  • you can give as much or as little personal details as you choose
  • you can report anonymously, if you wish

If you are reporting a crime that has been committed, the police will create a crime report and investigate the matter. If you have provided your contact details, the police will contact you according to your consent.

If you do not provide your personal details, the self-reporting forms will be used to monitor the incidents. Learn more about reporting hate incidents and crime through True-Vision.

True-Vision easy-read self-reporting forms for people with learning disabilities

Working with disabled people, their carers, and support organisation, an easy read form has been designed which people with learning disabilities can complete with assistance from their carers or staff.

  • the form has lots of pictures and you can draw to tell us more about what happened
  • you can report all types of hate incidents through these forms
  • the pack also gives you information about disability hate incidents and support available

These self- reporting forms and easy read forms are available from the True-Vision website

You can also request copies from communitysafety.casework@brighton-hove.gov.uk.

How to report to the Safer Communities Team

What to do if you need support

We provide support to people who have experienced hate incidents or crimes because of hostility based on their race, religion or disability.

Caseworkers will:

  • arrange to meet you at your home, if you wish
  • provide language or sign interpreter, if you need one
  • listen to your needs and take your concerns seriously
  • undertake an initial risk assessment within two working days, in line with the victim witness service standard
  • provide a single point of contact either from the Casework Team or from one of the partner agencies
  • develop an action plan to resolve the complaint
  • work with other agencies if you give your consent (police, housing officers, schools, etc) on the agreed actions to solve your complaint and take actions against the person who is causing the incidents, where possible
  • support you throughout the process
  • support you if you need to go to court
  • work with your family members or carers, as appropriate
  • ask for your feedback to improve our service

Other support services

If you wish to learn more about what other support is available please visit victim support. 
If you are to attend the court as a victim or a witness, witness service may arrange for you to visit the court before the trial, so you are familiar with the court. They can also assist you in the court proceedings and arrange for special measures.