Bedroom tax five lose appeal, Evidence of Atos bias, Benefits sanctioned, Video history planned for Cornwall, Whistles, ripples and a giant inflatable rat. Duty still not understood, More needed to tackle hate crime

Not content with living in a damp house after our recent flooding Sue and I decided to spend a few days last week on a residential course at Dillington House near Ilminster, not far from the Somerset Levels, which as many of you know is under several feet of water.

Formerly the home of Prime Minister Lord North, Dillington dates back to the 16th century although there has been a house on the site since before Domesday the present building was remodelled in the early 19thcentury in the so-called Jacobethan style.

Now run by Somerset County Council Dillington has been substantially refurbished to provide very high-quality accommodation. What makes this place unique, in my experience, is that aside from the usual creature comforts that you’d expect in an old country house this one has 16 well-appointed bedrooms, which are fully wheelchair accessible. I can’t think of many modern buildings that can boast such accessible resources. (Even the induction loop system in our training room was switched on and working!)

The course we attended entitled “Land into Landscapes” was an interesting exploration involving the use of music, poetry, literature, art and maps. A particularly stimulating conversation involved us exploring how someone blind from birth might experience landscapes. For those of us with sight it is an interesting question. Clearly sound, smell and textures all play a part but how do you experience “the view”? Answers on a postcard please? (If you want to know more about Dillington follow this link www.dillington.com)

News Roundup

‘Bedroom tax five’ will fight on after ‘baffling’ appeal court defeat
Five disabled people who face losing their homes because of the much-criticised “bedroom tax” have vowed to fight on, after a “baffling” court of appeal ruling that the new housing benefit regulations are lawful.

The court ruled today (21 February) that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) regulations – referred to by the government as the spare room subsidy removal (SRSR) policy – do discriminate against some disabled people, but that this discrimination is justified, and therefore lawful.

The housing benefit regulations introduced last April mean that tenants in social housing are punished financially if they are assessed as “under-occupying” their homes, with about two-thirds of those affected disabled people.

Many disabled people need extra rooms for impairment-related reasons, or find it impossible to move to smaller accommodation because of the shortage of accessible, affordable properties.

But the judges ruled today that the needs of disabled people subject to the bedroom tax were being met by the payment of discretionary housing payments (DHPs) – extra funds provided by the government to local authorities to distribute – and that for disabled people in need of an extra room their need for help with their rent was better dealt with by DHPs than housing benefit.

The five lost their high court case against DWP last summer, but subsequently won permission to appeal. A three-day hearing began on 20 January, with the court of appeal’s ruling delivered this morning.

Linda Burnip, co-founder of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “We are obviously disappointed that discrimination against disabled people continues to be considered lawful and justified.

“How that can be the case remains deeply disturbing and we will be following up this ruling with continued legal action, if necessary all the way to the European Court of Human Rights.”

Ugo Hayter, from the law firm Leigh Day, who is representing two of the disabled claimants, said: “We are extremely disappointed by this judgment and we are baffled by the findings of the court of appeal.

“The court recognised that our clients and thousands of disabled people across the UK had a need for accommodation not provided for by the new housing benefit rules.

“However, the court decided that disabled tenants should not have their housing needs met on an equivalent basis to their able-bodied counterparts, just because they are disabled.

“Instead, disabled tenants are being forced to rely on short-term and discretionary payments.

“We are currently considering whether an appeal to the Supreme Court is possible. Our thoughts go out to the thousands of disabled tenants who continue to be faced with uncertainty, poverty and the risk of eviction.”

Anne McMurdie, of Public Law Solicitors, who represented the other three claimants, said: “In figures provided during the course of the hearing the government made clear that the fund for discretionary payments will be reduced by £15 million next year.”

She added: “On the government’s own figures, at least 440,000 disabled households will lose out under the new regulations.

“There is compelling and growing evidence of the terrible adverse impact on disabled tenants, having to make the dreadful choice between paying the rent and buying food or heating their homes.

“Disabled tenants are not asking for extra funds – they are asking for housing benefit to be paid at a level which meets their needs – for the same right as others. Discretionary payments are not the answer.”
 


The high court’s ruling confirmed the government’s position that the regulations should apply to disabled adults who need their own bedrooms for impairment-related reasons, even though disabled children in similar situations are now exempt.

The Disability Benefits Consortium has warned that nine in 10 disabled people affected by the bedroom tax are “having to cut back on food and heating to pay the shortfall in rent”, with many forced “deeper and deeper into debt” and at risk of eviction.
Government figures provide strongest evidence yet of Atos bias

New official figures show that the government contractor Atos Healthcare is 50 times more likely to recommend wrongly that someone is “fit for work” than it is to make an error in finding someone not fit for work.

The government statistics are the firmest evidence yet that Atos is doing all it can to find as many disabled people “fit for work” as possible.

The figures – issued through a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) response – show that Atos almost never finds someone eligible for employment and support allowance (ESA) when they should be found fit for work.

According to calculations by Disability News Service (DNS), in only 0.3 per cent of cases in which Atos has advised the government that someone is eligible for ESA does a government decision-maker disagree and find that person fit for work.

But more than 16 per cent of claimants who Atos has advised are fit for work (FFW) – following a work capability assessment (WCA) carried out by an Atos healthcare professional – are subsequently awarded ESA by a decision-maker.

This means that Atos healthcare professionals are more than 50 times more likely to advise that someone is fit for work when they are not, than to find someone is not fit for work when they are.

The DNS figures – which do not even take account of cases which are subsequently overturned by an appeal tribunal – appear to prove that Atos healthcare professionals are straining to find as many ESA claimants fit for work as possible.

Both the Department for Work and Pensions and Atos refused to comment on the figures this week, and on why the company’s healthcare professionals appear to be so keen to find disabled people fit for work.

But the disabled actor and writer Mat Fraser said Atos staff should be wary of their actions.

He told DNS: “[If this is right] then Atos employees will also be 50 times more likely to be scrutinised when this whole sorry debacle is scrutinised posthumously, and 50 times more likely to incur the judgment of society when all of this debacle is subsequently examined.”

Andy Greene, a member of the steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts, said: “This system has been designed to move disabled people off disability benefits from the beginning.

“It is no surprise that where mistakes are being made, they are being made in favour of less support for disabled people.

“That was the whole intention. The system as designed is working perfectly for those who designed it.”

Claire Glasman, from the disabled women’s organisation WinVisible, who had joined Fraser, Greene and others at a protest outside Atos’s central London headquarters this week – one of scores of such actions that took place across the country – said: “Atos just do what is profitable, and that is why we are here.

“They must not be allowed to profit from our pain. They obviously have targets which have nothing to do with people’s welfare and we are very glad of the few whistleblowers who have spoken out and the undercover filmers who have spoken out about what is going on [at Atos] and what [Atos staff] are told to do.

“But people are individually responsible. Physios and doctors have professional ethics that they have to abide by, and working for Atos is no exception.”

Dr Sarah Campbell, principal co-author of the Spartacus report, who published a blog on the figures this week, said they raised some “difficult questions”.

She said: “Is ATOS being unduly harsh in its FFW decisions? Are DWP decision-makers routinely seeking further evidence, as is their responsibility? Are DWP decision-makers focussing on FFW recommendations at the expense of work-related activity group (WRAG) recommendations?

“Given the poor performance of the WCA and the time-limiting of the WRAG [a 12-month time limit for those on the contributory form of ESA], these are important questions and it is vital that the ESA assessment process be followed correctly.”

The FoIA response shows that government decision-makers agreed 96 per cent of the time when Atos suggested someone should be placed in the ESA work-related activity group – rather than in the support group or being found FFW – and 99.6 per cent of the time when an Atos healthcare professional suggested someone should be placed in the support group.

In all, from August 2010 to June 2013, the advice from an Atos healthcare professional – based on a claimant’s WCA – was ignored by a government decision-maker on about nine per cent of occasions.

This shows that decision-makers are far less likely to rubber-stamp advice from an Atos healthcare professional than they were during the first 20 months of the ESA – up to June 2010 – when decision-makers failed to follow Atos advice in only about two per cent of cases.
More than 100,000 disabled people had benefits ‘sanctioned’

More than 100,000 disabled people had their unemployment benefits removed in just one year as a punishment for not complying with strict new government rules, according to official figures.

The figures show that 104,200 disabled claimants of jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) were “sanctioned” at least once between the introduction of the new rules in October 2012 and 30 September last year. In all, nearly 530,000 JSA claimants were sanctioned.

The figures also show that 164 disabled people had their JSA removed for the maximum of three years after receiving a third “high-level” sanction.

Even the lowest of the three levels of sanctions leads to claimants losing all of their JSA for four weeks for the first “failure”, and then 13 weeks for subsequent failures within a year of a previous sanction.

During the year, nearly 42,000 disabled people received just one low-level sanction, while nearly 40,000 received one mid-level sanction, and more than 8,000 received one high-level sanction, which saw them lose their JSA for 13 weeks.

The most common reason for a JSA sanction (36 per cent) among all claimants was a failure to “actively look for work”, while nearly a third were for failing to take part in a jobs programme, and one in five because a claimant “didn’t have a good reason for missing a meeting at the jobcentre”.

Philip Connolly, policy and communications manager for Disability Rights UK, said the figures raised serious concerns about the impact of the sanctions on disabled people.

He said: “My suspicion is that there are a lot of people being sanctioned who have cognitive, mental health or sensory problems that make it difficult for them in communication.

“What we really need is an explanation of whether these factors have been looked at.”

He said it was also now important to look at the financial impact of the sanctions on disabled people, for example, whether they could afford to heat their homes or eat, and whether they were being forced to borrow money from loan sharks or payday lenders.

The disability charity RNIB said it had prepared five legal cases against the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and was looking into another 50, over the failure to send benefits letters in an accessible format to blind and partially-sighted people.

Some of these cases involve people on out-of-work benefits who were then sanctioned.

Steve Winyard, RNIB’s head of campaigns and policy, said: “Every week RNIB receives complaints about DWP failing to provide correspondence and other benefits information in Braille or other accessible formats.

“As a result, [some of] these people are at direct risk of sanction and a number have had the benefits they rely on to live withdrawn.”

He said sanctions had led to blind and partially-sighted people being forced to rely on food banks while they waited for the government to correct its mistakes.

Evidence submitted by other charities to an independent review of JSA sanctions for the government has revealed wider concerns for disabled claimants.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) calls in its evidence for DWP to “proactively identify” disabled JSA claimants – particularly those with impairments that may affect their capacity to understand the requirements placed on them – in order to comply with its duties under the Equality Act.

One Scottish Citizens Advice Bureau dealt with a client with learning difficulties who faced lengthy sanctions because she struggled to comply with the regime, and was told by staff that she was “lazy and not trying”.

Joint evidence from the homeless charities Broadway and St Mungo’s details a pregnant 19-year-old with learning difficulties who received several appointment letters she was unable to understand, “so she put them into a drawer and forgot about them”, leading to a string of missed appointments and sanctions.

The government figures also show that nearly 15,000 claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) – all in the work-related activity group – were sanctioned in the 10 months to September 2013, for failing to attend a mandatory interview or to participate in work-related activity.

Although sanctions for failing to attend a mandatory interview have remained steady at about 400 or 500 a month, those for failure to participate in work-related activity have risen steadily from 775 in December 2012 to 2,627 in September 2013.

But the month in which the highest number of sanctions has taken place since ESA was introduced in 2008 – at nearly 3,700 – is still March 2010, two months before the last general election.
‘Amazing histories’ will help fill a gap in Cornwall’s past

A new series of video interviews with disabled people shows the kind of “amazing histories” that should be recorded for future generations, according to the researcher who has led the project.

Remembering and Reflecting: Disability and Community in Cornwall, headed by Dr Theo Blackmore, research manager for Disability Cornwall, aims to show how the lives of disabled people in Cornwall have changed over time.

The project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, recorded 19 in-depth interviews with disabled people across the county, on issues such as education, employment, hate crime, and what they did in their spare time.

The idea came from interviews Blackmore carried out with disabled people for his PhD in disability studies at the University of Exeter.

One disabled woman had told him how her brothers built her what they called a “dilly” – a kind of go-kart – when she was a girl, because her family could not afford a wheelchair.

When she was in her 20s she moved into a Leonard Cheshire residential home because it was the only way to obtain a wheelchair, and it had level access. She has lived there ever since, for about 60 years.

Blackmore says in an introductory video: “It occurred to me at the time that there are some disabled people in Cornwall who have some real tales to tell about their lives, and about how things have changed over time.”

Even though there are about 115,000 disabled people living in Cornwall – about 20 per cent of the population – the Cornwall Record Office does not hold recordings of disabled people, and it agreed with Blackmore that this was a “real gap”.

He told Disability News Service: “It’s an attempt not to fill that gap but to begin a process where at least there is recognition that these people do have voices and that there are amazing histories that need to be recorded.”

The videoed interviews have so far been viewed online around the world, including in north America, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Japan and even Kazakhstan.

The interviews will be lodged with the record office, the Cornwall audio-visual archive, and the county’s Azook Cornish history project, as well as with organisations such as Cornwall College, which Blackmore hopes will use them to train health and social care students.

He also hopes they will be used by Cornwall Council to train social workers and councillors, where they might help to break down some “specific views and preconceptions”, and bring new ideas into the council.

He suggested that they could help to educate the minority of councillors who might share similar views to those expressed last year by the independent Cornish councillor Collin Brewer, who caused outrage and was forced to resign after suggesting in a DNS interview that it might be a good idea to kill some disabled babies.

He said: “I think it will be a can of worms in there. I don’t think Brewer was unique. I am sure there are other people of his ilk [in the council]… who might think in a similar kind of way.”

Blackmore said the project was also an attempt – despite the problems many are currently facing – to show that life for disabled people had “fundamentally changed in a fairly positive direction” over the last 50 or 100 years.

And it will mean that researchers can look back in another 50 or 100 years to see how things had changed again for disabled people in Cornwall.

One of the major themes to come from the interviews was the negative attitudes of other people, including at school.

One of those interviewed, Pete Skea, says in his interview: “They used to put a disabled person in the corner and basically forget all about us and not integrate us into the mainstream classroom.”

But most of the interviewees also speak “very positively” about living in Cornwall as disabled people, mentioning aspects such as “community, belonging and a sense of place”, says Blackmore in one of the videos.

Chris Jordan tells how, as someone with learning difficulties, he was elected to his local parish council in 2003, while Richard Pryor says that people right across the county are “always very accommodating, always willing to help you out, take you somewhere, get you involved in something”.

Dr Claire Tregaskis, who left the county and then returned to Cornwall later in life, describes how she decided to come back in the 1990s when she realised it was “safe” to visit her home town of Wadebridge.

She says she moved back at around the time the Eden Project opened in St Austell in 2000, when people from other parts of Britain who were “more used to difference” had also started moving to Cornwall.

She says she could not have returned to Cornwall if Wadebridge itself hadn’t changed. Previously, she says, she “felt like an alien” in the town, but “when people stopped crossing the road to avoid me I knew it was safe”.

“All of a sudden it didn’t matter actually if local people were still not liking me, because there were new people who didn’t mind talking to me.

“And oddly enough I found that the more that that happened, the more the locals suddenly thought, ‘Oh, actually, she isn’t quite as scary.'”

Among the negative issues the interviewees discussed were the public transport system, the inaccessible built environment, and the isolation of Cornwall from the rest of the country.

Skea says: “I know it’s happening everywhere, but I think it’s happening worse in Cornwall, all the benefit changes, all the council cutbacks.

“We’re always last to know what is happening down here and I think when it comes from the economic point-of-view I think we’re all worst hit down in Cornwall than perhaps I would be if I was somewhere else in England.”

Blackmore is due to show all of the interviews at Cornwall College tomorrow (21 February), at an event attended by members of the fire service and police force, as well as students and council staff, members of the public, and some of the interviewees.

The interviews will be screened every Monday for the next few weeks, at about 9.30pm, on the Cornwall Channel, which broadcasts every Monday evening from 9-10pm on Sky Channel 212
Whistles, ripples… and a giant inflatable rat, as Atos faces day of action

Activists have staged demonstrations at scores of locations across the country to highlight how a government contractor has “humiliated” disabled benefits claimants, and to call for the abolition of the “fitness for work” test.

The national day of action saw an estimated 60 protests outside offices used by Atos Healthcare, including actions in Bradford, Edinburgh, Leeds, Liverpool, Luton, Glasgow, Brighton, Reading, Sheffield, Coventry,Swansea, Weston-super-Mare and Canterbury.

The protests were all inspired by a disabled activist from Leeds, Tom Smith, who wanted to highlight the company’s practices and “try and start a ripple effect in the public’s understanding” of how Atos staff carry out work capability assessments (WCAs) on disabled benefits claimants.

Most of the protests lasted from 8am until after 2pm on 19 February, with a minute’s silence at 1pm.

In Leeds, the protest included the appearance of a seven feet-high inflatable rat, to highlight the “vermin-like nature of Atos”, as well as music and dancing outside the company’s offices.

Three protesters occupied the offices and discussed their concerns with Atos staff, with one leaving shortly afterwards and the other two staying for about half-an-hour before leaving, to avoid upsetting disabled people who were being assessed.

Protesters outside the assessment centres in Southend and Wimbledon saw no staff turn up for work, but Atos has so far refused to explain why this was, although reports suggest they were “too scared” to go to work.

In Norwich, there was a protest by the user-led Equal Lives – formerly Norfolk Coalition of Disabled People – which has been campaigning for two years over the inaccessible Atos assessment centre in Duke Street.

Equal Lives and Disabled People Against Cuts say disabled people have been sent as far as Nottingham and Coventry for their assessments, because the Norwich premises are inaccessible to wheelchair-users.

In Weston-super-Mare, protesters were told that Atos and DWP should be “held accountable for the damage they have inflicted on thousands”.

In Leicester, activists heard Atos described as “social demolition engineers”, while in Glasgow protesters blew whistles and chanted “Atos kills” outside the company’s offices.

Jayne Linney, one of the organisers of the protest in Leicester, wrote on her blog that about 50 people had attended, including representatives from the Unite union and the TUC.

She said she heard “horror stories” at the protest from people who had been affected by an Atos assessment, with “personal tales of humiliation, sanctions, suicide and more”.

She added: “What makes it even more tragic (if this is possible) is the [fact that] we’ve all heard it all before, not once but over and over.”

Probably the largest protest saw more than 100 activists outside the Atos headquarters in central London.

Political figures who attended protests included the Green party leader Natalie Bennett, Labour MP Dennis Skinner, and Green MP Caroline Lucas.

Meanwhile, it was reported this week that ministers were working to ensure that other providers take over the contract from Atos in 2015.

According to the Guardian, a leaked document states that the government wants to build up competition to Atos by commissioning other private firms to add capacity to the WCA system – a move the government announced last year – and hopes these companies will then take over completely from Atos when its current agreement expires in 2015.

And another report, this time in the Financial Times, says Atos has been negotiating with the government for an early release from its WCA contract, which expires in 2015.

Atos apparently is blaming “persistent death threats” against its staff, and an “untenable” political environment.
Support for decisions ‘still not understood’ in parts of England

Professionals in parts of England still do not understand their duty to ensure that disabled people have the support they need to make “critical” decisions about their health and social care, according to a new government report.

The duty to refer people who do not have the capacity to make certain decisions to the Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (IMCA) service is probably “still not well embedded” in some areas, seven years after the service was introduced, says the report.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 introduced a legal duty on NHS bodies and local authorities to refer eligible disabled people – most commonly those with dementia, learning difficulties or mental health conditions – to the IMCA service, and to consider the subsequent views of the advocate before making any decisions.

The report on the sixth year of the IMCA service – which is run by 60 local providers – raises concerns that, despite a 16 per cent increase in 2012-13 in the number of care reviews assisted by IMCA, this area was still not being used widely enough.

Department of Health guidance says local authorities should carry out a care review within three months of a person moving to new accommodation or where there have been other major changes to a support plan, with at least one review every year.

But there are still far more referrals to IMCA for decisions about accommodation (5,353) than for care reviews (1,203).

The report also mentions one case in which a client was “tricked into going to a care home”.

Another IMCA advocate tells how a client was “deemed to have capacity yet still was not allowed home – and none of the professionals thought this was dishonest or wrong”.

The report says there were also concerns at a decline for the second consecutive year in the number of cases in which IMCA has acted where there were concerns about a disabled person’s safety.

Figures collected by local authorities show there were more than 173,000 safeguarding “alerts” during the year, but only 1,482 referrals to IMCA.

The report says: “This means fewer than one per cent of people who were referred to local authorities for safeguarding assistance received the help of an [IMCA advocate].

“This proportion is decreasing as safeguarding numbers increase and IMCA supported safeguarding decreases.”

The report adds: “It is recommended that supported decision making is adopted more widely within safeguarding practice, to assist more people to make their own decisions about their safeguarding plans.

“And before a care plan or a protection plan is made, the question should always be asked about whether any less restrictive safeguarding action which would interfere less with the person’s basic rights and freedoms may be possible.”
Criminal justice system should do more on disability hate crime, says police expert

A leading police expert has called on the criminal justice system to do more to tackle disability hate crime.

Superintendent Paul Giannasi, a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers’ (ACPO) hate crime group, was speaking to Disability News Service as ACPO prepared to publish its new hate crime manual, which will set out a police strategy and offer operational advice to officers.

Giannasi is leading work on the manual, which will describe the standards that every force in England and Wales should meet, and for the first time will feature extensive guidance on tackling disability hate crime.

Giannasi said there was a “huge gap” between the number of disability hate crimes recorded by police – which has settled at just below 2,000 a year in England and Wales – and the 62,000 estimated by the annual crime survey.

Even that 62,000 figure is likely to be an under-estimate, because the survey does not include residents of care homes or under-16s, with research suggesting that young disabled people are the group most likely to be affected by hate crime.

Giannasi, who also leads on the government’s cross-departmental hate crime programme, but was speaking for ACPO, said: “It shows us there is a huge gap, and a far greater gap than there is with some other hate crime, such as racist crime.”

But a recent police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) audit, carried out to discover where in the system “things were falling off the conveyor belt”, suggested that it was police officers who identified offences as hate crimes in more than half of cases.

Giannasi said there had been progress in how disability hate crime was dealt with by police since 2007 and 2008, when the issue first began to secure media attention after the deaths of Steven Hoskin, Kevin Davies, and Brent Martin.

He said: “If you start from 2008, we have come a long way, but not as far as we would want.”

And he added: “The massive progress we saw getting from 800 to 2,000 hate crimes a year seems to be levelling off, if you look at recorded crime rates.”

He said it was crucial to raise awareness and knowledge among police officers so that they understood the “nuances” and began to look for evidence of disability-related hostility, rather than just evidence of the crime that had taken place.

He also said that disabled people were far less likely than those from black and minority ethnic communities to be aware of their rights when it came to hate crime.

Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 says CPS must prove that a perpetrator either demonstrated hostility towards a disabled victim or that the crime was motivated at least partly by hostility, in order for a judge or magistrate to increase the sentence.

Giannasi insisted that this legislation was “robust”. Where it was not so robust, he said, was in how it was applied by the criminal justice system, and how the necessary data was gathered.

One of the key problems was that, even if all the 62,000 crimes recorded in the survey were reported to police, that would still only see every officer investigating an average of one disability hate crime every two years.

What the new manual will suggest is that each force considers that – even if every hate crime cannot be investigated by a specialist hate crime officer – there is at least “dedicated oversight” of every investigation by a specialist officer, such as a CID sergeant, as well as having a senior officer with strategic responsibility for hate crime.

Giannasi added: “We have got work to do in terms of the data throughout the criminal justice system that allows us to identify where those holes [in the system] are.

“Nobody at policy level would suggest we are anywhere near where we need to be.”

ACPO and CPS have also carried out an audit that will show which areas they need to concentrate on next to take their work forward.

But he said that the criminal justice system in England and Wales was far ahead of any other country in the northern hemisphere – including the US – when it came to tackling disability hate crime.

Giannasi was less inclined to focus on police funding cuts as an explanation for why progress had “levelled off” than variations in how different forces focused on the issue.

He said these figures showed the need for managers in the police – and partners across the criminal justice system and public services – to examine whether they are doing all they can to address the under-recording.

For example – and these are figures chosen by DNS and not Giannasi – West Midlands police recorded just 33 disability hate crimes in 2012-13.

But Leicestershire – which has placed a much stronger emphasis on disability hate crime since being severely criticised over the death of Francecca Pilkington and her mother Fiona – recorded 49.

Leicestershire’s budget is less than a third of the size of that of West Midlands, which includes England’s second-biggest city, Birmingham.

In some of the better-performing areas, said Giannasi, local beat officers have tried to form relationships with disabled people, for instance in day centres and residential homes, and to talk to them about disability hate crime and their rights.

London’s Metropolitan police has a budget more than 15 times bigger than Leicestershire, but only records twice as many disability hate crimes, while Gloucestershire recorded only four disability hate crimes in 2012-13, despite a budget two-thirds of the size of Leicestershire.

Possibly the most striking failure is by South Yorkshire police – criticised already this year over its failure to treat the attacks on Craig Kinsella as disability hate crime – which recorded just seven cases in 2012-13, even though its budget is far bigger than Leicestershire’s.

News provided by John Pring at www.disabilitynewsservice.com

Author: PhilFriend

Dr Phil Friend (OBE FRSA) himself a wheelchair user, is acknowledged as the UK's foremost consultant on disability matters. A powerful and highly popular communicator, his company – Phil & Friends – provides consultancy to many of the country's best-known companies. In addition to his professional activities, he is also a respected champion for equal opportunities and diversity in general, where his special blend of humour and direct speaking has won admirers from around the world.

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