How sensational stories like these lead to tragedies like the following:
Although there were an estimated 65,000 disability hate crimes last year only 2,000 were reported – and just over 500 resulted in a conviction.
And recent reports show that attitudes towards the disabled have worsened over the last year.
Francesca Martinez, who has Cerebral Palsy but prefers the term “wobbly”, is an actress and comedienne.
As a disabled person she has experienced negative attitudes and tonight she investigates the reasons behind the apparent increase in resentment towards some of the most vulnerable in our society.
Because he thought I was fake, he’s called me a spacker, a cripple, … a benefit cheat … a scrounger.
– PETER GREENER
With the support of his family and the police Peter set up a CCTV camera and captured footage of his neighbour painting abuse on his fence and throwing stones at his house which enabled him to secure a conviction for harassment and criminal damage.
Francesca also meets journalist and expert in the field of disability hate crime, Kathryn Quarmby. She is concerned that reporting of disability fraudsters combined with the government’s “anti-scrounger” rhetoric is fuelling resentment to the genuinely disabled.
We know quite a lot about the way in which the media reports disability and the scrounger rhetoric that has started to increase recently. The incidents of words such as ‘scrounger’, ‘skiver’, ‘cheat’ and so on has tripled in the last five years.
Francesca also travels to Rugby to meet Sue Prince and Nikki Reid. Sue’s daughter Gemma Hayter was 27 and had learning difficulties when she was murdered in 2010 by a group of five of her so-called friends.
Adults with learning difficulties like Gemma Hayter are vulnerable to being abused by those they trust – something now known as mate crime.
Mate crime is a kind of subset of disability hate crime and it seems to be very specifically something that happens to some groups of disabled people, almost all of whom have learning disabilities.
Because of the problem of loneliness they look for any friends they can possible find, and so at the beginning they are flattered by the attention, quite often and will sometimes put up with really quite high degrees of violence.
– KATHRYN QUARMBY