World’s first disability hate crime conference will help to tackle Britain’s shameful problem

For the first time ever, victims, academics, support organisations and elements of the criminal justice system will meet to discuss the impact of disability hate crime.

The conference, titled ‘Disability Hate Crime conference: Known harms and future directions’, is the first event of its kind, bringing together victims and experts from across different sectors. It will be hosted by the University of Leicester – a world leader in hate studies – on Thursday 16th June.

Disability hate crimes are a growing problem across Britain. Last year, more than 9000 disability hate crimes were recorded by police forces in England and Wales. Disability charities, Leonard Cheshire and United Response, also found that online disability hate crime rates had increased by 52% on the previous year.

Hate crime can take many forms, ranging from verbal abuse to physical and sexual assault. It can also include threats, criminal damage, harassment, stalking and anti-social behaviour. The impact of disability hate crime, in particular, can cause long-term psychological illness, social isolation and result in restricted access to healthcare, employment and education. Whilst the conference won’t provide a ‘cure’, it has been created as a step towards achieving justice for victims and preventing this type of crime.

Dr David Wilkin, Honorary Fellow at the University of Leicester and Lead Coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network is the event creator:

“Disability hate crime (DHC) is currently seeing annual increases of reporting in the region of 50-55%. It is also an under-researched crime. This event has been my dream for over two years. It’s a global first and we hope that it might lead to the creation of a national framework to incentivise schools, local authorities and national agencies to improve safeguarding for DHC victims and provide training awareness on the topic.”

Dr Chris Allen, Associate Professor of Hate Studies at the University of Leicester adds:

 “As citizens of change, all of us here in the School of Criminology are committed to undertaking research that has relevance and meaning in the ‘real-world’. That is why we are so pleased to be able to host this important global conference. Through raising awareness, engaging with key stakeholders and listening to victims, the conference has the very real potential to catalyse meaningful change now and in the future.”

Dr Leah Burch from Liverpool Hope University and Dr Irene Zempi from Nottingham Trent University have also played a fundamental role in co-producing the event and they will be among a host of experts delivering talks and presentations on the day. Other speakers include the Disability Champion Minister for Disabled People, Stephen Brookes, along with Leicestershire Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and many more.

The conference will take place in person and online. Tickets are free but they must be booked in advanced via Eventbrite to secure a place.

The Disability Hate Crime Conference is organised by the British Society of Criminology Hate Crime Network with the support of the British Society of Criminology and University of Leicester.