What we say matters

Disability Hate crime and how we talk about people 

We have written this blog because we want to remind everyone that how we talk about people matters. The words we use make a difference to how people see people each other. Sometimes we hear people with learning disabilities talked about as if they are different to everyone else or even dangerous.

Recently we read about someone committing a truly shocking/horrifying crime at a popular London tourist attraction and the article hinted they did it because they are someone with a learning disability.  We further believe that releasing the suspects name & in particular his photo was a big mistake as that could so easily give the wrong & outdated impression that all who have learning disabilities or mental health issues are the most likely to commit crimes related to this shocking case.

We know it is not true that being disabled makes you likely to commit a crime but if you hear it on TV or read it on line you might start to think these are the people who commit dangerous crimes or attack other people. When people commit crimes they should face prosecution and we support the justice system prosecuting people.

Research by United Response has shown that Disability Hate crimes are being reported more than ever but there are fewer prosecutions. You can read about that research here

We think part of the reason hate crime happens is because of the images or ideas people have of disabled people  – these ideas come from how the media portrays people as well as how we all talk in every day life.

This week is Hate Crime awareness week and as part of that we are asking everyone in the media but every one of us in our homes, shops, pubs, workplace, gym etc to remember that to label groups of people simply because of their disability is completely outdated & out-of-time.

Please remember people with learning disabilities & mental health issues are ordinary people. Just like you they want to get on (along with the rest of you) with their lives feeling safe and belonging in their communities and to have a chance to contribute to society & their communities (being a neighbour,  volunteering a few hours a week at your local charity shop or working at a local company). We want people to be portrayed like that in the media – every little helps!

If you want to report a Hate Crime or take action yourself Dimensions have a lot of information as part of their #ImwithSam campaign. Find out more here

This blog was written by David and Sam

David is a member of Progress Housing Group Scrutiny panel and Sam works for Learning Disability England