POLICE are urging people to report hate crime incidents following a release of statistics which showed an increase in the number of crimes committed against the disabled in Cumbria.

According to recent statistics, the number of crimes committed against disabled people recorded by Cumbria Constabulary was up by 26 when comparing the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 years.

In 2020/2021 there were 123 crimes whereas in 2019/2019 there were 97 crimes both with a large proportion being violent crimes 56 and 52 respectively.

Detective chief inspector Matt Scott, force lead for hate crime, said: “We take all reports of hate crime extremely seriously and would urge anyone who’s been a victim, witness, or someone who is aware of information that needs to be reported to contact us.

“Unfortunately, many hate crimes and incidents go unreported.

“We often see increases due to many factors including following work undertaken to increase confidence and therefore increasing the number of reports we receive.

“The public should be reassured that we take all hate crime reports seriously and encourage those that have been a victim or have witnessed this type of crime to get in touch with police and report it.

“There is no place for hate in Cumbria, and it will not be tolerated.

“We will investigate and look to prosecute those who commit theses offences.”

This latest police data, gathered by leading disability charities Leonard Cheshire and United Response ahead of Hate Crime Awareness Week, shows a huge spike during a period when much of the population was forced to stay at home during national and regional lockdowns.

Leonard Cheshire and United Response commented: “Many disabled people we spoke to said they wouldn’t report their hate crime to the police, so our findings are likely to scarcely scratch the surface of the true scale of these horrific incidents.

“The stories we’ve heard suggest many police officers do not have a good understanding of disability. So we’re calling for a specialist disability liaison officer in every police force. We want the government to make disability hate crime easier to report too. We hope the upcoming Home Office Hate Crime Strategy will address just this.

“We also heard about the awful, long-term impact these crimes can have on individuals; leaving them isolated and frightened to leave their home. Clearly there needs to be disability specific support for victims.”

“The government has a role to play in preventing hate crimes altogether. One of the most important steps in tackling hate crime is creating a more accepting society where differences are tolerated. The government’s National Disability Strategy promised a disability awareness raising campaign. That should be an opportunity to educate everyone, including young people and those in school, about disability hate crime.”