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Missing links: safeguarding and disability hate crime responses

Jane C. Healy (Jane C. Healy and Rosslyn Dray are both based at the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)
Rosslyn Dray (Jane C. Healy and Rosslyn Dray are both based at the Department of Social Sciences and Social Work, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 24 January 2022

Issue publication date: 23 February 2022




This paper aims to consider the relationship between disability hate crime and safeguarding adults. It critically considers whether safeguarding responses to disability hate crime have changed following the implementation of the Care Act 2014. Historically, protectionist responses to disabled people may have masked the scale of hate crime and prevented them from seeking legal recourse through the criminal justice system (CJS). This paper investigates whether agencies are working together effectively to tackle hate crime.


The research presented draws on semi-structured interviews with key informants who work with disabled people and organisations as part of a wider study on disability hate crime.


Prior to the Care Act, safeguarding practice often failed to prioritise criminal justice interventions when responding to reports of disability hate crimes. Improving engagement within multi-agency safeguarding hubs and boards has the potential to increase hate crime awareness and reporting.

Research limitations/implications

This research was limited in scope to 15 participants who worked in England within safeguarding teams or with victims of hate crime.

Practical implications

Raising the profile of disability hate crime within safeguarding teams could lead to achieving more effective outcomes for adults at risk: improving confidence in reporting, identifying perpetrators of hate crimes, enabling the CJS to intervene and reducing the risk of further targeted abuse on the victim or wider community.


This paper is original in its contribution in this field as there is a dearth of research on the relationship between safeguarding and disability hate crime.



The authors would like to thank Professor Jonathan Parker for reviewing an earlier draft of this work.

Funding: The research was funded by Middlesex University’s Institute of Social and Health Research.


Healy, J.C. and Dray, R. (2022), "Missing links: safeguarding and disability hate crime responses", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 43-53.



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