I am in the police force. What can I do for victims?

It’s estimated that 70,000 people a year are victims of disability hate crime, and that people with learning disabilities and/or autism are four times more likely to be victims. But, in 2018/19, only 8,256 disability hate crimes were reported by police and nearly half of people we asked said they didn’t report what happened.

We want to help you understand this type of hate crime better and how you can support victims. It’s time to make the criminal justice system fairer.

Watch the videos, read our guidance and use the buttons below to find out more.

Helping a victim who has a learning disability and/or autism

If you are responding to a disability hate crime and the victim has a learning disability and/or autism, these tips for the general public can also help you.

We’ve worked with the National Police Chief’s Council to make a guide about how to spot and report a disability hate crime, and what happens when people do. Please share these far and wide – the more people who understand how to spot and report a hate crime, the more the police can help victims.

Share the guide

The guide is for carers and supporters of victims of disability hate crime, but the information it provides can help anybody who is concerned about someone at risk of a hate crime.

It gives readers an understanding about what will happen when they report a hate crime and the rights of the victim.

Share the hate crime reporting website

The report-it website can give victims and their supporters more information about how to report a hate crime.

When the victim is at the police station, reporting the crime will be an upsetting and stressful experience.

Some people may not have the language to name and report a crime. Some people might not be able to talk to strangers or in stressful situations. Some people might not use words to communicate.

Many people with learning disabilities may be unaware that a crime has taken place. Their disability means they are particularly at risk of crime and abuse.

It is very important that you identify a person’s additional needs early. This will help you to communicate effectively and recognise whether their disability might have played a part in why they’ve been targeted. If in doubt, ask!

Making them feel more comfortable

  • Talk to them in a quiet and comfortable environment where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Allow someone to help the victim talk through the experience, such as a carer.
  • Let them communicate in a way that makes them feel comfortable, their parent or carer will understand this best.
  • Take an official statement from the victim, sometimes using alternative communication techniques.

Be aware that distressed behaviour, which may present challenges, is their way of expressing frustration at their environment and not being able to communicate. Give them time to calm down and don’t treat them as the perpetrator.

Communication techniques

  • Write a clear, simple plan about what you will do to help them and what they need to do.
  • Give them clear, concise questions to answer.
  • Don’t embellish, be clear with what you’re saying and avoid using metaphors.
  • Use visual cues to help them understand what you’re saying and so they can communicate too.
  • Give them extra time to process what you’re saying, think about what they want to say and communicate that with you.
  • Give them advice and support to help with fears about going back in public or home.
  • Build links and relationships with people who are at risk in your community.

Remember to officially report it as a disability hate crime and make the Crown Prosecution Service aware of the victim’s autism or learning disability.

Watch the videos, read our guidance and use the buttons below to find out more.