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#ImWithSam Fights Online Disability Hate Crime

May 14, 2019

From yesterday’s Guardian letters online.

Disability hate crime is an issue we face every day, but is not often talked about (Report, 10 May). Figures showing that online disability hate crime has hit record levels in England and Wales are very concerning, and highlight that we need to talk about the issue in order to tackle it. For too long, I and other people with learning disabilities have been excluded from digital spaces out of fear of abuse. We have a right to feel safe online. What needs to change is the behaviour of the abusers, not the victims.

Through #ImWithSam, we have been campaigning to raise awareness of this issue among policymakers, the general public and, crucially, among people with learning disabilities, so that they recognise when a crime is happening and what they can do about it. So far, we’ve trained more than 1,000 police officers to help tackle learning disability hate crime. Online disability hate crime should have tougher laws. Abusers should be prosecuted, and their profiles taken down. Social media companies also have a role to play. They should make their safety procedures easier to understand, so people with learning disabilities know how to better protect ourselves. This cannot continue. We need change now – and I hope that the government takes the problem of online hate crime seriously, so people with disabilities are free to express themselves online, free from fear.
Mark Brookes
Campaigns adviser, Dimensions

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