Tackling Disability Discrimination and Disability Hate Crime: A Multidisciplinary Guide

Ged Doherty (Ged Doherty is based at the School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 8 February 2016



Ged Doherty (2016), "Tackling Disability Discrimination and Disability Hate Crime: A Multidisciplinary Guide", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 65-66. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-06-2015-0019



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

With the declared aim of identifying the work needed “to ensure that disabled people live and are looked after in an environment that is safe and secure” (p. 12), this book sets itself a formidable challenge, given the complex and under-researched field of disability hate crime. However, the 18 chapters that follow the preface, from contributors with a wide diversity of backgrounds, do indeed cover many aspects of the topic and succeed in providing a welcome addition to knowledge of this subject.

For ease of access, chapters are divided into four sections. The first section addresses the perennial question, What is Disability Hate Crime? The chapter by Mike Smith, ex-Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, provides what amounts to a very accessible summary of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (2011) influential inquiry, Hidden in Plain Sight. Other chapters in this first section include knowledgeable contributions from Jemma Tyson and Paul Giannasi as well as influential hate crime scholar, Nathan Hall, making this the section which is likely to appeal most to those whose interest in this subject is predominantly academic.

The second section examines the influence of disability hate crime on victims. This section contrasts quite distinctly with the first, both in terms of tone and content. The first two chapters of this section are written from a personal perspective by victims and their relatives. In particular, the expressive words of Mark Brookes and his reference to abuse as an everyday experience provide a concise description of the impact of this type of offending. Together with the persuasively frank contributions from relatives of victims, David Cain and Dame Philippa Russell, these chapters offer an insight not only into hate crime, but also into the societal barriers facing disabled people. Thus, as well as providing a more narrated counter-balance to the previous academic section, these chapters help to remind the reader of the reasons why there needs to be a better response to the needs of disabled people. Following Complaints Commissioner Kathryn Stone’s offering, this section is then effectively concluded with a chapter by Robina Shah. In her exploration of how the safeguarding of victims should work, she acknowledges that the “NHS and social services are perceived to be failing disabled people” (p. 130), and closes the section with a comprehensive aide memoir identifying and listing areas for action.

The third section of the book is entitled Lessons from Other Disciplines, a heading which presumably refers to the wide variety of backgrounds of the contributors. This section diversely includes chapters such as one on university life (Bob Munn). Although it is not always clear which disciplines are being represented, the section does begin with a very informative chapter on sexual violence by Dr Catherine White, forensic specialist. With clear references to some of the current literature on the risks to disabled people, this chapter provides succinct commentary on contemporary sexual violence matters, including Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs), rape myths and stereotypes, the Duluth approach to domestic abuse, mental capacity/consent and safeguarding. Subsequent contributors in this section include Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter Sophie was murdered in what amounted to a hate crime assault. She provides her account of the death and how it inspired her to launch an education programme through The Sophie Lancaster Foundation. The final chapter in this section provides an account by Paul Fredericks on the regulation of health and social care. It discusses the influence of well-known contemporary cases such as the investigation into large-scale abuse of people with learning disabilities at Winterbourne View Hospital, as well as the inquiry into standards of care in the Mid-Staffs Health Authority.

The closing section of the book concentrates on how to respond to disability hate crime. Melanie Giannasi opens this section with a thorough analysis of local authorities’ responses to the issue. In a compact history, beginning with the government’s policy of Care in the Community, she astutely identifies the issues arising as a result of the blurring between adult safeguarding procedures and hate crime responses. Later in this section, following chapters examining multi-agency working from an NHS perspective (from GP, Matt Hoghton and NHS Project Manager, Syed Naqvi), Paul Giannasi also conducts a similar effective analysis on the criminal justice response to disability hate crime. The guide culminates for super-strategists with a chapter by Lord Nigel Crisp on how to influence government policy, before concluding with a chapter by the joint editors outlining suggested recommendations for action.

Well done to Robina Shah and Paul Giannasi for producing a much-needed accessible and informative guide to this under-researched area of study. As might be expected by any book of this type, some of the contributions do not augment the body of knowledge in this area as much as others. In addition, a contribution from a disability studies scholar might have been helpful to provide an additional perspective on the oppression faced by disabled people in society. Having said that, the book does not shy away from addressing areas for development. With an early recognition (p. 32) that the environment for the flourishing of hate crime is “conditioned by the activity – or inactivity – of the state” (Perry, 2001), the book’s contributors propose a significant number of recommendations across many areas.

This book is a useful resource which holds something of relevance and interest for specialists from a range of backgrounds, including academics, practitioners, strategists and policy-makers. In addition, it will provide a good read and act as a good reference tool for any individual who is new to this area of study, or wishes to broaden their knowledge of the subject or, indeed, is seeking to tackle the pernicious existence of disability discrimination and disability hate crime.

About the reviewer

Ged Doherty is studying for a PhD at the University of Leeds. Ged Doherty can be contacted at: ged.doherty@ntlworld.com


Equality and Human Rights Commission (2011), Hidden in Plain Sight: Inquiry into Disability-Related Harassment , Equality and Human Rights Commission, London.

Perry, B. (2001), In the Name of Hate: Understanding Hate Crimes , Routledge, New York, NY.

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