DHCN is an independent unfunded group of UK disabled people and a range of interested and statutory bodies challenging UK disability hate crime. It is important to note that we are not an advocacy or reporting group, but we stand by the principle of trying to campaign for, and try to achieve justice for disabled victims of hostility and hate crime. We will press for appropriate sentences especially in terms of an enhanced sentence using s146 of the Criminal Justice Act, but equally we will respect the basic premise of law to not try to unduly prejudice outcomes of on-going cases by predetermining judicial decisions. For your own legal protection, please DO NOT post full or revealing personal details of on-going or pending reports or legal cases (including naming individuals) as this could possibly damage outcomes. Please don’t ask us to ‘take sides’ in any personal matters, as we must ensure the right to justice is not compromised. We will not knowingly allow inflammatory or dangerous comments and we will not tolerate personal abuse.
DHCN Admins: Anne Novis MBE, Katharine Quarmby, Simon Green, Beverley Smith, Rosemary Coates, Sarah Hewitt, Stephen Brookes MBE. Mel Close. Mark Cutter. Carol Burt
Our website is www.dhcn.info
When he was Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken McDonald stated that ‘disability hate crime was a scar on the conscience of the criminal justice system’ and internal work by the Crown Prosecution Service, and then by the Association of Chief Police Officers under the hand of Chief Constable Simon Cole, underpinned by work by the Equality and Human Rights Commission under the lead of Mike Smith by producing the report ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ in 2011 has gone some way to create a change in mind set.
Even so, there is still too much general hostility toward disabled people and one aspect of our work is challenging the media and its treatment of disability. To keep the matter of the fight in the public domain and in the conscience of everyone who can influence outcomes, the Disability Hate Crime Network (DHCN) will continue the fight.
Now recognised as national contacts on matters relating to disability hate crime by charities, unions, police and CPS organisations the original Disability Hate Crime Network was established in January 2008 when the Ann Craft Trust, Respond Voice UK and leading disability organisations sought to improve the coordination of their campaigns to tackle disability hate crime. These organisations and individuals attending this first meeting were the Ann Craft Trust, Respond, Voice UK, Mencap, Values into Action, the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, the National Autistic Society, RADAR, Scope and Disability Now, and for its first year the original Disability Hate Crime Network existed as an email network that was administered by Respond, the Ann Craft Trust and Voice UK, with Robin van den Hende circulating emails of general interest.
A refresh was needed as it was important to get a closer collaboration between key people working on disability hate crime at this time. These included Ruth Bashall at Waltham Forest , Anne Novis, advising the Metropolitan Police on hate crime, Stephen Brookes, in his role in the CPS, the best practice Third Party reporting centre in Blackpool, and across Lancashire, and Katharine Quarmby who wrote a series of articles and report on the issue culminating in her major works of writing ‘Getting Away with Murder’ (Scope 2007) and her widely read and praised book – Scapegoat (Portobello 2011).
I was felt to be a good idea to make the network more interactive and inclusive of everyone involved in matters of hate crime including police, CPS and academics so that a wider understanding of disability would be available. He asked Anne Novis and Katharine Quarmby to join him as volunteer co-ordinators of the group on Facebook, so that the group could become more outward facing and interactive, and as a result of successful work the coordinators were honoured with an award by Radar and the Crown Prosecution Service for their work highlighting the issue of disability hate crime in 2010.
Since then more co-ordinators have joined, adding their owns skills to the mix, including Beverley Smith, Sarah Hewitt, Simon Green, and Clare Bradley who before her recent health retirement was the police officer with Lancashire Constabulary and who was working with the award winning Blackpool Third Party hate crime reporting centre. Early in 2014 Mel Close, CEO of Equality Northwest has also ‘joined’ as well as Anthony Mark Cutter who has deep involvement with Lancaster and UCLAN universities, and in 2015 Carol Burt of Iamme in Scotland has joined.
The number of people who see and read our work is growing – The facebook group is now over 3600, and the e forum group including key community organisations, Police and CPS, which see newsletters has a reach of around another 2000.
This site, we hope will increase the number of people who actively, or passively work to reduce all aspects of hostility and hate crime (including mate crime) towards disabled people. One essential and important aspect of our work is to emphasis that disability hate crime – hostility – potentially affects everyone who is disabled whatever that disability may be, and it must not be tolerated or accepted by anyone!
It is also important to point out that, while we know that current government policy and welfare reform has created a particularly negative representation of disability, the Network views hostility and hate crime toward disabled people as a problem which has existed for many years before, and will sadly exist long after, the current government term. Please do understand that we need to make clear both here and on our facebook site that our work is not driven by politics, but by an aim to stop any form of day to day criminal harassment toward disabled people.
With your help we will succeed in reducing disability hate crime.