Deplorable hate crimes against people with disabilities have risen by a shocking 213% since 2007/08, new figures reveal.
Figures from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) show there were 574 reported cases of disability hate crime in 2014, up from 183 in 2007/08.
A total of 4,000 cases of disability hate crime have been brought by the CPS since the offense was first introduced in 2007.
However, Stephen Brookes from the Disability Hate Crime Network said the worrying figure is likely to be much higher, because too many instances of disability hate crime or either not reported or are overlooked.
“I believe the number of people actually suffering is equivalent to the number who report religious and race hate crime each year – 60,000″, said Mr Brookes.
Last year the former director of public prosecutions, Ken MacDonald, said the police and CPS were often overlooking cases of disability hate crime, despite disabled people being “abused, injured, or murdered”.
Offenses include verbal abuse and harassment, physical assaults, the sickening vandalism of wheelchairs and vehicles displaying a Blue Badge, which allow mobility restricted sick and disabled people to park nearer to supermarket entrances and other locations.
Disability rights campaigners claim the rise is largely “fuelled” by Government welfare reforms, negative newspaper reports and TV programmes such as Benefits Street, misleadingly portraying people on benefits as ‘scroungers’.
Linda Burnip, co-founder of the grassroots campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts, said:
“This figure shows a shocking increase in disability hate crime, which is no doubt fuelled by the constant media fuelled campaign against benefit claimants.”
The Crown Prosecution Service launched a new Disability Hate Crime Action Plan in 2014 in a bid tackle the rising problem, the Sunday Express reports.