Staying safe in York: Disability Hate Crime

Thanks to Olivia, who has written about our first online event about Disability Hate Crime.

York Disability Rights Forum (YDRF) hosted its first online Disability Hate Crime event on Thursday 14th October. Its aim was to raise awareness of hate crime, offer an opportunity to talk about individual experience of it and help people know what to do if they experience it.

The event started with an introduction from Marije Davidson, a member of the YDRF steering group, who spoke about the Forum’s Disability Hate Crime project, including the plans to produce podcasts which volunteers myself and Kirsty are working on. We hope to get volunteers to discuss their experiences of hate crime. If you would like to help, please email

Marije also told attendees about the new Disability Hate Crime Page which has recently been launched.

We then heard from the event speakers. Firstly, we heard from PC Stuart Henderson, Hate Crime and Independent Advisory Group Coordinator with North Yorkshire Police. He explained how the law defines what a hate crime is and how to report it. Stuart said the key element of any hate crime is that it is created through hostility and prejudice. He also said that many people don’t realise that disability hate crime happens because a lot of incidents aren’t visible. This is the reason why people don’t think they have seen any forms of disability hate crime. This suggested the need for more education about hate crime, including in schools. There also needs to be a change in attitudes towards disability and disabled people as this is another way that hostility is spread and people’s beliefs are often influenced by their parents. This is why it would be important for schools to have an impact on changing this prejudice narrative.

Stuart then talked about hate incidents; he defined them as non-criminal offences such as deliberately blocking a path to somebody using a wheel-chair. This is an example of a hate crime incident. If, this person was doing this constantly to someone it would eventually be classed as a hate crime, a criminal offence.

If you are a victim of a hate incident then it is important to report it as soon as it happens. This means that each time it is recorded it will go towards making a case against the person/people doing it.

Stuart then spoke about how to report a hate crime. He said that the first thing to do is ring the police on 999 (if you need them urgently) or 101. Or you can go to a 3rd party Reporting Centre and to talk about your experience and get help to report it to the police if you want to. Examples of 3rd party reporting centres are Supporting Victims (in York), Galop (for LGBT people) and Tell Mama (anti-Muslim hatred). You can also report anonymously via the True Vision website. Supporting Victims can refer you to organisations to help deal with trauma. Stuart was very informative and gave everybody lots of useful information, we were so pleased he could be a speaker for our first event.

Next, we heard from York People First, a self-advocacy group for adults with learning difficulties. They spoke to us about the projects they have been a part of and what they had done to raise awareness for hate crime already. They then showed us a film that they had produced which shows the reality of hate crime for disabled people. It showed first hand examples of experiences. The group also shared their frustration that too little had been done. They felt that disability hate crime within the City of York was often ignored. We spoke of how this needed to change and that we hoped this event would spark questions for creating change. We enjoyed York People First coming to speak to us and everyone took away something from their video and what they had to say.

Then everybody went into breakout rooms of up to six people for 15 minutes of discussion around three set questions:

  • What does hate crime mean to you?
  • Where do you not feel safe and why?
  • What stops you from reporting an incident and what can we do about it?

After the discussion we came back into the main zoom room to feedback. The main discussions were around people’s frustrations about hate crime, including where it was linked to domestic abuse. Some people talked of how they felt that disabled people who are victims of domestic abuse and of hate crimes are often ignored. A few attendees shared their experiences of hate crime and asked Stuart questions on how the police would respond and if the police always believe the victim. Stuart said that the police will always believe your hate crime experience regardless of who you are. Their number one priority is to keep you safe and to make sure you feel supported when reporting a crime or an incident. Stuart also pointed out the fact that you can report a hate crime or incident in a way that works for you. The police will try their best to make reporting an easy process and cater to each individual and their preferred methods. Such as, meeting you in person, talking on the phone or using zoom. Stuart also spoke about his upcoming projects within York that have a focus on misogyny and women’s safety.

A massive thank you to everyone who organised and joined the Staying Safe in York event with York Disability Rights Forum. We really appreciated all of the speakers and the participants. We hope to run more events and take more actions that tackle disability hate crime.

Get involved


If you would like to learn more about the podcasts that we are planning to produce and perhaps contribute to them, please email Olivia or contact York Disability Rights Forum.

Leave a Reply