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Disability Hate Crime Victim Wants To Help Others

October 8, 2021

A woman with learning difficulties who was verbally abused in the street has said she wants to help other victims of hate crimes.

Amy Williamson, 25, was travelling independently for the first time when the incident happened in Leeds.

She said it left her scared to go out in the area after dark.

A new study has found more reports of hate crimes against disabled people in West Yorkshire than any other area for the fourth year in a row.

The two charities behind the research, Leonard Cheshire and United Response, described the county as a “disability hate hotspot”.

Ms Williamson said she reported the incident in 2019 to the police.

“They walked up to me when I was about to go home to my mum. They stopped me from going forwards and they called me nasty names,” she added.

‘Frightened to come out’

Ms Williamson said she wanted to raise awareness and offer support to other people with disabilities who had also been victimised.

She added: “I would like to help people if they get bullied… I love helping people.”

Support worker Mandy Haigh said there needed to be more awareness of the effect hate crimes could have.

“I know many people with learning disabilities that’s happened to who don’t come out of the house anymore because it’s completely knocked their confidence,” she said.

“They’re frightened to come out because that happens.”

According to the charities’ report, which collected responses from 39 of England and Wales’ 43 police forces, 935 incidents were reported to West Yorkshire Police in the year to March 31.

That represented an increase of 7.5% on the previous year, it said.

The report added that only seven of those reports ended up being referred to the Crown Prosecution Service or someone being charged.

West Yorkshire Police said it was working to “improve the investigation of hate crime”.

Assistant Chief Constable Damien Miller said the force did have specialist hate crime co-ordinators and that it recorded every incident “whether it passes the threshold to be classified as a crime or not”.

“This means that while we do record some high levels of hate offending, we also have a better picture of what is happening and would rather victims felt empowered to make their voices heard,” Mr Miller added.

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