18-24 June is Learning Disability Week – a week of national campaigning and awareness raising about learning disabilities. The focus of this year’s Learning Disability Week is disability hate crime. Find out more and see how you can get involved.

In 2007, Fiona Pilkington killed herself and her severely disabled daughter after enduring years of torment from local youths. The case highlighted the effect and scope of disability hate crime and how it goes unchallenged. Four years down the line, we are still making efforts to understand the specific nature of learning disabilities and disability hate crime and how to respond to it.

Mencap, the leading learning disability charity, launched a campaign, ‘Stand by me’, against learning disability hate crime in 2011. The research conducted by Mencap reveals that as many as 9 out of 10 people with learning disabilities have been victims of hate crime (including verbal harassment and violence). This astonishing figure is attributed to two factors – a) people with learning disabilities may be seen as easy targets, and b) the lack of support for people with learning disabilities from the police, courts, local council and other groups.

What are learning disabilities?

Learning disabilities affect the way a person learns, understands and communicates information. Learning disability may lead to difficulty in learning new things, comprehending complex information and coping independently.

What is disability ‘hate crime’?

Any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability or perceived disability is disability hate crime. When such crime is motivated specifically by prejudice based on a person’s learning disability, it’s called learning disability hate crime. As mentioned above, according to the charity Mencap, around 9 in 10 people with learning disabilities have been victims of hate crime.

How can you help?

  • Find out more about learning disabilities and how they might impact individuals.
  • Take a stand against hate crime. Campaign for a more responsive system for people with learning disabilities.
  • Contribute to awareness raising. Even if it’s only tweeting on the subject (use the hashtag #ldhatecrime), remember every bit counts!