After multiple campaigns by Police Forces and the Crown Prosecution Service to spread the message that crime targeted at disabled people will be taken seriously, the fact that for a decade the pleas for help of Ms. Pilkington and her disabled daughter were ignored, until a group of thugs was able to drive the Pilkingtons to their deaths, and that those thugs have suffered no consequences of their actions, will strike many disabled people as a staggering betrayal of trust.
The evidence that disabled people, and people with learning disabilities in particular, are disproportionately affected by bullying and harassment has been produced thick and fast over the years. In its own policy document on disability hate crime, the Crown Prosecution Service quotes research by Mencap (Living in Fear, 2000) which found that one third of people with learning disabilities were facing bullying on a daily or weekly basis. These facts are well known to Police Forces, Prosecutors and Local Authorities alike.
There is, therefore, no excuse for the abject failure by Leicestershire Police to take any action to protect Ms Pilkington and Francecca from the systematic abuse and harassment which led to their deaths. All the outreach work in the world will not persuade people with disabilities to trust their police force to take their complaints seriously when they see cases like this. If anyone from the police or local authorities had taken Ms. Pilkington seriously, she and her daughter might still be alive today.
Liz Sayce, Chief Executive of RADAR, said:
“It is extraordinary that in 21st Century Britain people still taunt and torment people just because they are different. In April of this year I myself took part in the launch of a report by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission into targeted violence against disabled people, the findings of which were stark.”
“We need strong police response to hate crime, as this tragic case demonstrates. But we also need schools, local authorities, housing organisations and others to take positive action to tackle bullying and harassment before it ever gets to major hate crime. Disabled people tell us that they suffer bullying day in day out – people with learning disabilities in particular – and this is unacceptable.”