Recognising and reporting disability hate crime

This information applies to England and Wales.

If someone commits a crime against another person because they are disabled or they think they are disabled, it is a disability hate crime. This also applies to parents of disabled children.

Anyone can commit a hate crime, including:

  • a stranger
  • a neighbour
  • a support worker
  • your guardian
  • your partner
  • a member of your family
  • a friend

Warning If you are in immediate danger

If you are in immediate danger or badly hurt, always call 999. You can text 999 to the emergency SMS service if you’ve pre-registered your phone number.

Emergency SMS service (Relay UK)

Disability hate crime

Hate crime can take many forms:

  • physical attacks such as assault, damage to property or arson
  • attacks on assistance animals
  • threat of attack including offensive letters, abusive or obscene telephone calls, texts or intimidation
  • harassment, such as dumping of rubbish or name calling
  • some bullying and abuse at school, online or in the workplace

What is hate crime? (Facing Facts animation on YouTube)

What is befriending crime?

Anyone can commit a hate crime, including your partner, family or someone you think is your friend or carer. Befriending crime happens when someone pretends to be your friend to take advantage of you. This might mean:

  • grooming or forcing you to commit a crime
  • using your money in a way you would not want
  • forcing you to do work for little or no pay
  • preventing access to food or basic needs
  • sexual abuse or assault

What is grooming (Ann Craft Trust)

Hate incidents

A hate incident happens when someone targets a person because they are disabled. The police have a duty to investigate hate incidents and may decide that a crime has taken place. Incidents can take many forms, including:

  • name calling and verbal abuse
  • physical attacks like shoving, spitting or punching
  • bullying
  • online abuse on social media
  • threats to you or your family

Warning Keep a record

A hate incident becomes a hate crime when there is a criminal offence. Someone might be harassed or verbally abused many times by the same person before they commit a crime. Keep a record of incidents. It’s important that the police know about all hate incidents so they can build up evidence.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a hate incident and a hate crime. Even if you are not sure, report the incident to someone you trust like a social worker who can help you speak with the police.

The police will decide if this is a crime. Telling the police will help them to keep you safe. It may also help to protect other disabled people.

Warning Supporting your mental health

If experiencing hate crime means you need support with your mental health, ask when you can.

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is important. Everyone manages their mental health differently.

There are many things you can try. 

Managing your mental health

Reporting disability hate crime

Report hate crime as soon as possible. You can report:

  • as the victim
  • on behalf of a friend or family member
  • or as a witness

There are several ways to do this. You can ask for help and you do not need to leave your house or talk to the police in person.

Report a hate crime (True Vision)

If you think that someone committed a crime against you because you are disabled, include this in your report. This means that the police can consider the incident as a disability hate crime.

Report a person’s behaviour if you are worried that they are committing a crime against you.

Before you report the crime

Think about what you need to include in your report. To investigate, the police will need as much information as you can give, such as:

  • when
  • where
  • what people looked like, such as hair, eyes, height, clothing
  • what people sounded like, such as voice or accent
  • car, the colour, model, registration or condition
  • what happened
  • any witnesses
  • what you were doing before the crime
  • what you did afterwards

You may find it upsetting to remember the details. You may need to share personal or intimate information. If you are worried about talking about it, ask for help from the police or victim support organisations.

The police have an obligation to protect you. They will decide if the evidence you give is enough to arrest someone. They can also issue a restraining order in some circumstances.

Reporting to the police

You can report a hate crime to the police:

Ask for the incident reference number. Make sure you keep a record of this. You can use this every time you talk to the police about your case.

If you need reasonable adjustments so that you can give a full report of what happened to you, you could ask for:

  • interviews at your home, rather than at a police station
  • a sign language interpreter to help you
  • a carer or mental health worker to attend with you
  • documents in a format you can access

If you find it hard to talk about your experience, ask for a police officer who is trained to help you give evidence. You could ask a friend or family member to come with you or to call the police on your behalf.

Download your self-reporting form (True Vision)

Other ways to report (True Vision)

You can fill this in at home and send it to your local police station. It’s available in an Easy Read version.

Warning Recording disability hate crime

If you believe you were targeted because you are disabled, the police should record it as a disability hate crime.

Third party reporting (without going to the police)

If you do not want to talk to the police, you can report hate crime anonymously.

You can do this through a third party reporting centre.

Search online for ‘third party reporting centre near me’ to find your nearest centre.

These are local agencies, like Citizens Advice, charities or community centres. They can report to the police on your behalf. They offer support and can advocate for you during a police investigation or court proceedings. You can make your report:

  • in person
  • by phone
  • by filling in a self-reporting form

Report online or by phone

You can also report hate crime online or by phone, 24 hours a day.

Stop Hate UK offers a 24-hour reporting line by phone, text, email, web chat, text relay and BSL using InterpreterNow.

It also has a specialist reporting service for Learning Disability Hate Crime.

Check if Stop Hate UK works in your area

Victim Support is an independent charity that supports people who have experienced crime. They can offer advocacy, support and reassurance after a hate incident or crime.

Their third party reporting service is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

You can report by:

  • phone
  • live chat
  • email
  • reporting form
  • Sign Live for BSL

Victim Support can offer interpretation services for people whose first language is not English.

In Wales, the Wales Hate Support Centre can offer support through the medium of the Welsh language.

Victim Support Wales

To report information about a crime anonymously, contact Crimestoppers UK on 0800 555 111.

Report a hate crime (Police UK)

If your child experiences disability hate crime

Your child may find it difficult to explain what has happened to them. They may not realise it is a hate crime.

You may find it upsetting to hear them talk about what has happened but you are probably the best person to do this. Try to make a record. The police are more likely to be able to investigate if they can talk with you and your child.

The police have specially trained officers who can help your child give evidence. You can ask for reasonable adjustments to help your child to communicate with them. Your child might feel more comfortable if the interview took place at home or at a certain time of day.

If your child is still at school, talk to the school about what has happened. Your child may feel anxious about going to school or even leaving the house. The school’s safeguarding officers should support your child to feel safe and able to continue with their education.

Bullying and hate crime at school

Bullying is not a criminal offence. If your child is being bullied, talk to the school. Ask to see their bullying or behaviour policy to find out how they will deal with it.

If your child is being bullied

If you think that the bully is committing a crime because your child is disabled, talk to the police. For example, if they hit your child, steal their money or damage their property because they are disabled. They will investigate this as a hate crime. It’s important to report this before bullying escalates.

Signs that your child might be a victim of hate crime (United Response)

Some services can support both you and your child if they experience hate crime.

Victim Support

Support for victims of hate crime

If you, your child or someone you know experiences hate crime, there are services that can help.

Stop Hate UK

Stop Hate UK provides free and confidential support and advocacy in many areas of the UK.

Stop Hate UK helpline for reporting learning disability hate crime

Victim Support

Victim Support offers specialist support. They can help you:

  • deal with the immediate emotional impact of crime
  • report the crime to police
  • find a counsellor to help you cope with what’s happened
  • understand the criminal justice system
  • make a compensation claim
  • talk to other agencies, like your employer or housing officer
  • find someone to repair locks or remove graffiti

Call free 24 hours a day on 08 08 16 89 111.

Contact Victim Support online or by text relay

Find your local Victim Support service


The charity Embrace provides practical and emotional support for children, families and young people.

Call Embrace on 0345 60 999 60 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. 

Citizens Advice

Your local Citizens Advice can help you to call the police or report a crime on your behalf. They can also help you to make a complaint if you think the police have not treated you or your child fairly.

Find your local Citizens Advice

Legal support

Finding free or affordable legal help (Citizens Advice)

Hate crime (Crown Prosecution Service)

Last reviewed by Scope on: 14/02/2024

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