Care Quality Commission lie about their competence

 All Posts, Disability Rights, Social Model  Comments Off on Care Quality Commission lie about their competence
May 312012
 

With thanks to http://www.kingqueen.org.uk/archives/70

For letting us repost- pop over for some more brilliant stuff!

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has come in for somewhat of a bashing recently. But I didn’t think they would lie as well.

In response to a recent documentary exposing care home abuse, CQC said the following in their media statement:

CQC carries out an unannounced inspection of every care and nursing home in England every year – more often if we believe people may be at risk. This system of regulation can and does identify poor care which CQC then takes action to tackle.

What?!

A quick look at the five care homes I’d stayed in in the last year revealed last inspection dates as follows:

  • Summer 2010 (in response to a specific incident, last “proper” inspection November 2007)
  • January 2009
  • November 2009
  • February 2011 (in response to specific allegations)
  • December 2009

Not one was inspected in the past 12 months. 0%.

Personal experience with looking for care homes for a relative confirmed the impression that most care homes have gone well beyond 12 months without an inspection.

I smelled a rat. So I asked CQC how many homes it had indeed inspected. The response came. Answering a slightly different question, CQC admit they did 13,082 inspections of care homes over the last 12 months. There are 17,756 care homes. So at least 26% of homes didn’t get inspected. I say “at least” as where CQC identifes problems at a care home they conduct more than one inspection. (hence why I think their FoI response is disingenuous.)

Let’s look at these once again.

  • “CQC carries out an unannounced inspection of every care and nursing home in England every year – more often if we believe people may be at risk.”
  • Of the 17,756 English care homes, CQC did 13,082 inspections over the last 12 months.

Is it me, or do the figures not add up?

Where did this come from?

The sad thing is we always knew CQC would be an appalling, incompetent mashup.

It was formed from a merger of the Healthcare Commission, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and the Mental Health Act Commission a couple of years ago. Having worked with CSCI, who were at least trying to do things right, me and other service users raised the concern that it would follow the sad precedent of the subjugation of disabled people’s rights following the Disability Rights Commission being subsumed into the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Sadly, we were right. Our concerns that social care would always be lower priority than healthcare were realised.

It didn’t help that the new body was given new, overarching registration standards. These same standards applied to all bodies registered – from acute hospitals, to dentists and care homes. The result being the emphasis on residents rights was lost, and the regulations simply weren’t specific enough for the situation. We lost rights in the change.

Then CQC sacked 70% of its inspectors so that it could register dentists. They adopted what they acknowledge as light touch regulation. They ceased grading care homes, and largely stopped inspecting them. The majority of care home reviews became based on self-declaration by care home managers. Inspections became very rare. Now, precisely which poorly performing care homes would state this to the regulator do you think?

Abuse

All this came to a head during the very sad and distressing Panorama documentary of the systemic abuse of people with learning difficulties at Winterbourne View. CQC became a very public whipping boy, held accountable for a lot of what happened. Much criticism resulted, including a select committee and the PM criticisng CQC for reducing inspections. Many made a comparison with the seminal Silent Minority documentary exposing the “care” of people with learning difficulties in institutions in the early 1980s. (Documentary available to view online – very distressing too.)

Meanwhile, there’s been blood on the carpet and accusations of gagging orders on staff etc. CQC has become a toxic brand. It’s been desperately attempting to reinvent itself, so far (in my view) failing miserably.

Consequences

If it wasn’t so serious, this would be funny. The reality is, though, that people are suffering as a result of this disgusting shambles. Care home residents are some of the most vulnerable, most disadvantaged, most disempowered people in this country. Abuse is the norm, not the exception in my experience; it just varies in degree. Without an effective regulator, the thousands of people in care homes up and down the country suffer even more abuse, poor treatment, curtailment of life opportunities.

CQC are ineffective, stuffed up, an ineffective regulator who lie about themselves to try and stop the torrent of legitimate criticism aimed their way. They are beyond redemption and need replacing.

(With grateful thanks as always to the wonderful Crippen for his inciteful cartoon

 

 

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May 272012
 

While there always seems to be plenty of money for some from disability sadly, the trickle-down effect never seems to reach as far as disabled people themselves. We still seem to be being exploited as cash cows for others. Below tells how charities are exploiting disabled people through the evidence of a whistleblower from one of the charities.

 Scandal of charities that bully people off benefits

by Dave Sewell

Charities and voluntary organisations that claim to be helping vulnerable people are instead enforcing government plans to throw them off benefits, Socialist Worker can reveal.

Over 270 voluntary organisations signed up to the government’s Work Programme, which pays contractors to bully unemployed people off benefits.

Sometimes this involves “workfare” schemes—herding unemployed workers into mandatory unpaid work at supermarkets, fast food restaurants and even NHS hospitals (see below).

An “employment advisor” at one of the charities spoke to Socialist Worker anonymously about the practice. “It’s disgusting,” they said. “We get letters from people who are really ill asking why their benefits have been taken away.

“I remember one client with severe psychosis. He didn’t know what day of the week it was—but he was about to lose his benefits because he had missed his appointments.”

The charities claim they are providing a service to help vulnerable people into jobs. But the jobs simply aren’t there.

Last week St Mungo’s became the latest charity to pull out of the Work Programme. It hadn’t made the revenue it expected. And it failed to put a single homeless person into work.

“Charities signed up naively,” the advisor told Socialist Worker. “They thought—we already work with vulnerable people, so why shouldn’t we do the same for a contract?”

Factories

In practice this has meant charities turning into factories designed to process unemployed claimants. And if claimants can’t jump through the government’s impossible hoops, their benefits can be removed.

“There is so much pressure to get results—either by getting people into work, or by getting their benefits sanctioned,” the advisor said.

Around one in ten of those that the charity recommends to be stripped of their benefits are later found to have been sanctioned wrongly, the advisor added.

Their caseload includes people who are claiming Employment Support Allowance and are not obliged to seek jobs, as they are not considered fit for work.

But the advisors are not trained to tell them this. Nor are they trained to help claimants who miss appointments for health reasons—and then find they have lost their benefits as a result.

The voluntary organisations involved in the Work Programme are subcontractors of private sector training firm Seetec. They include charities that work with disabled people, homeless people, single parents, young people and ex-offenders.

But the Work Programme is in a mess over its use of contractors. One prominent firm, A4e, is so mired in fraud allegations that it has had to be axed from the scheme.

And last week the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee called for payments to Work Programme contractors to be frozen. The advisor welcomed this move, saying, “It’s an obscene system. Let’s hope it falls apart soon.”

Originally posted at http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=28575 nice pic of DPAC protesters there too blocking the road

 see also: http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/shame-of-the-third-sector-how-charities-got-it-wrong-on-workfare/

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/workfare-isnt-working-so-grayling-plans-more-workfare-this-time-its-for-charity/

 According to DWP charities involved are set out in the following table by area: find your charity here-we’ve kindly highlighted the disability ones for you- let us know if we missed any-for full excell sheet email us at mail@dpac.net.uk

 Btw Disability Works UK includes SCOPE, Leonard Cheshire, Mind, MENCAP, Action for Blind People (or RNIB) Disability Works UK has a turnover value of £654.4 million and a surplus of £15.6 million Recession? What recession?

Work Programme Supply Chains

 
The information contained in the table below reflects updates and changes to the Work Programme supply chains and is correct as at 30 January 2012.
It is published in the interests of transparency. It is limited to those in supply chains delivering to prime providers as part of their tier 1 and 2 chains. Definitions of what these tiers incorporate vary from prime provider to prime provider. There are additional suppliers beyond these tiers who are largely to be called on to deliver one off, unique interventions in response to a particular participants needs and circumstances.
The Department for Work and Pensions fully anticipate that supply chains will be dynamic, with scope to flex and evolve to reflect change within the labour market and participant needs.
The Department intends to update this information at regular intervals dependant on time and resources available.
In addition to the Merlin standard, a robust process is in place for the Department to approve any supply chain changes and to ensure that the service on offer is not compromised or reduced.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
   
Comparison between the August 2011 stock take and the January 2012 figures shows a small net increase in the overall number of organisations in the supply chains. Both the public and private sector shows slight increases, while the voluntary and community sector shows a small net decrease.
The table below illustrates these changes
 
 
 
 
   
Sector Number of organisations in the supply chain    
Private As at 30 January 2012 – 306 / As at 12 August 2011 – 295*  
Public As at 30 January 2012 – 137 / As at 12 August 2011 – 133*  
Voluntary or Community (VCS) As at 30 January 2012 – 412 / As at 12 August 2011 – 420*  
Totals As at 30 january 2012 – 855 / As at 12 August 2011 – 848*  
   
*Note  These figure have been amended due to organisations being incorrectly recorded in the earlier stock take, which has now been rectified. This included two strategic partners being listed as a tier 2 sub contractor when no contractual relationship was in place; one organisation being incorrectly categorised as voluntary sector when they were in fact from the private sector, and a voluntary sector organisation being recorded under two different names, thus decreasing the voluntary sector count and increasing the private sector.

East of England              
Papworth Trust              
Action for Blind People              
Royal Mencap Society               
East Midlands              
Disability Works (UK)              
Disability Alliance              
Action for Blind People               
Royal Mencap Society              
West London              
Acton for Blind People              
Hammersmith & Fulham MIND              
MENCAP              
Disability Works UK              
East London              
Disability Works UK              
Mencap              
North East              
Action for Blind People              
North West – Merseyside, Halton, Cumbria and Lancashire              
Disability Works UK              
Eden Mencap              
Action for Blind People              
Royal Mencap Society              
North West – Greater Manchester, Cheshire & Warrington              
Disability Information Bureau              
Action for Blind People              
Leonard Cheshire Disability              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
Scotland              
Action for Blind People              
Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH)              
Scottish Mental Health Co-operative              
South East – Thames Valley and Hampshire and Isle of Wight              
Disability Works UK              
MENCAP              
South East – Surrey, Sussex and Kent              
Disability Works              
Action for Blind People              
Disability Works UK              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
South West – Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Somerset              
NIL              
South West – Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and West of England              
Shaw Trust               
Swindon Mind              
Action for Blind People              
Wales              
Action for Blind People ( RNIB )              
West Midlands – Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country              
Action for Blind People              
Disability Works UK              
Birmingham Disability Consortium              
West Midlands – Coventry and Warwickshire, Staffordshire and the Marches              
Mencap               
Shaw Trust              
West Yorkshire              
Action for Blind People              
South Yorkshire              
Disability Works UK              
Disability Works UK              
North East Yorkshire and the Humber              
Leonard Cheshire Disability              
RNIB              
Royal Mencap Society ( Mencap )              
The Mind Consortium              
               
 
 
 
 
   

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May 272012
 

 report from

http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/2012/05/27/uk-uncut-make-it-personal/

UKUncut Make It Personal

 

The NHS and Welfare State are being destroyed and the people doing it have names and addresses.  One of those people is Nick Clegg, who lives in Parkfields, a leafy street in Putney, SW13 (no 2, if his ‘terrified’ neighbours are anything to go by, many of whom were all too ready to grass the slimy lying wanker up and reveal his address to protesters).

Yesterday’s street party outside Nick Clegg’s house was one of several actions around the country staged by UK Uncut.  Clegg’s constituency office inSheffield was also a target.  The protests were billed as ‘Great British Street Parties’ a reference to the fawning display of deference set to sweep the country over next weekend’s jubilee.

 

Despite Clegg’s claim that his neighbour’s children were scared by the protest, many in the community actively joined in the party with a couple of local kids even producing an impromptu anti-cuts banner.  It’s clear Nick Clegg is as unpopular in his own neighbourhood as he is in the rest of theUK.

I have to admit to feeling a little underwhelmed on arriving at the protest.  Despite a good attendance of around 200 people, and a heroic action from Disabled People Against Cuts, who chained wheelchairs together in order to block the road and secure the space,it was about as un-threatening as you could get.  One person described it as a very fluffy picnic.  Reclaim the Streets it was not.

But whether it was down to the sun or the beer I changed my mind.  All in all it was a fun day out, and with bunting, cake, music and dancing it was exactly what it said on the tin.  UK Uncut were right to pick a target that was both achievable and well directed.  By all measures it was a huge success for the direct action group and lays the foundation for bigger and more ambitious action in the future.

The over the top reaction from the Tory twitter trolls was just the icing on the cake.  Grinning idiot Louise Mensch sounded like she was back on the charlie as she frantically denounced the protest and furiously retweeted anyone who agreed with her bizarre view that targeting a politician’s home is unacceptable.

Thousands of people are currently losing their homes due to Clegg and Cameron’s cuts.  For those made homeless, this Government’s assault on the very poorest is as personal as it gets.  And their children genuinely go to bed frightened by the actions of Nick Clegg and his millionaire chums in the cabinet.

Why should Nick Clegg rest easy in his sleep when by his actions he is condemning swathes of the country to poverty and homelessness?   UK Uncut’s street party was a well aimed tactic to hold millionaire Clegg accountable for his actions.  If they come for our homes, then we should come for theirs.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/may/26/nick-clegg-house-uk-uncut

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-18219101

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/900287-anti-cuts-protesters-stage-street-party-outside-nick-cleggs-home

http://www.klfm967.co.uk/news/uk-news/687800/cleggs-home-targeted-by-anti-cuts-protesters/

http://www.channel4.com/news/anti-cuts-protest-at-cleggs-london-home

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 Posted by at 20:13
May 252012
 

 Deadline for signatures: 30th May 5pm-releasing to press day after

Posted on Social Welfare Union

 Dear Sir/Madam,

 We the undersigned are deeply angered and concerned with the way sick and disabled people are being portrayed by the press and wider media as well as the distinct lack of fair and accurate reporting in relation to disability benefits.

The use of defamatory language is being used in a totally irresponsible and callous manner by a steadily increasing number of newspapers and other media providers.

We believe that the press and the wider media are blatantly using this language as a means of labelling all disabled benefit claimants as ‘cheats’ and ‘scroungers’, yet most are genuine sick and disabled people who are in many instances unable to work and are asking for only the very basic levels of support.

Such support is in no way over generous as some newspapers are claiming with administrative error and miscalculations at 0.5%. In fact disability benefits like Disability Living Allowance have some of the lowest levels of fraud of all forms of social security benefits and it is estimated that billions remain unclaimed in benefits every year. A significant fact that news provider’s and even the coalition government are neglecting to inform the public.

We also believe that whilst many claimants are now being found fit for work through the use of new assessment processes, most often the press and wider media are shirking in their responsibility to report from both sides and about the large number of sick and disabled people who are being wrongfully found fit for work and who are later having those decisions overturned in their favour by a social security tribunal. They also fail to report on people found ‘fit for work’ by Atos Healthcare, the private health firm contracted to carry out work capability assessments on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. Those people then find that they cannot claim Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) because they are ‘unfit for work’ as deemed by the JSA qualifying criteria. These people often have to rely upon handouts and food parcels and become lost statistics unseen by the public.

The signatories of this letter are greatly concerned that the way the press and wider media are portraying sick and disabled people will continue to fuel a growing hatred and discrimination, adding to increasing reports of hate crime towards disabled people and the potential for suicides already being reported by some news providers.

Whilst we support the democratic idea of a free and open press we feel that they have a moral and social duty. We ask that they refrain from the use of language and/or defamatory terms which is fuelling the growing and unjust public hate and disdain of sick and disabled people and benefit claimants. We also ask that they honour and obligate to report all stories related to disability and disability benefits in a manner that best informs their readers and viewers which is balanced, accurate and fair.

To add your signatures go to: Social Welfare Union

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May 242012
 

Stop ATOS! End Work Capability Assessments!

MCAC is working with Manchester Against Benefit cuts to organise a week of action against changes to disability living allowance and the role of ATOS in carrying out “evaluations” for fitness to work which have been linked to over 1000 deaths between August and January following loss to benefits (see press coverage below). Please support this action to highlight this scandal. More details of week of action to follow.

Details of week of action
31 May, 12pm: Protest march from Albert Square to ATOS “assessment” centre at Albert Bridge House

6 June, 7pm: Public Meeting at Friends’ Meeting House on building resistance against ATOS

9 June, 11am: Petition and stall, Market Street

Manchester Against Benefit Cuts Facebook page
Welfare cuts “linked to suicide”

There is “anecdotal evidence” of people committing suicide after losing their benefits following a reassessment, an MP has claimed.

A freedom of information request revealed that between January and August last year, 1,100 people had died after they lost their benefits.

Labour MP John McDonnell asked the Government to investigate whether there was a trend of people with mental health problems committing suicide after being ruled as fit for employment.

He said: “MPs across the House, and ministers, have emphasised the importance that care must be taken in dealing with people with mental health problems as they approach the medical and capability assessments, even if they lose benefits.

“There is some anecdotal evidence of suicides taking place of people who have lost benefits.

“Has the Government explored any of the coroners’ reports in these cases where there has been a reference to the loss of benefits as a contributory factor, and what lessons have been learnt?”

Speaking in the Commons, employment minister Chris Grayling replied: “We will always look very, very carefully indeed where something like that happens. So far my experience is that the story is much more complicated. But that does not mean we are not doing the right thing.

“I passionately believe that we should be helping (people), particularly those with mental health problems. I have met people who have been out of work for years and years and years with chronic depression who we are now beginning to help back into work.

“We have got to be very careful but we do look very carefully when those situations arise.”

Source: UK Press Association 23rd April 2012

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May 232012
 

DPAC are delighted to hear this news which is a further important condemnation of the WCA carried out by ATOS. Together with other allies we will be continuing our fight against these assessments which are leading to thousands of deaths of disabled people.

The United Kingdom Local Medical Committees Conference of the British Medical Association has voted today to carry the following motion:

22nd May 2012 12.10 pm

103 HAMPSHIRE AND ISLE OF WIGHT & 103a SCOTTISH CONFERENCE OF LMCs

That conference, in respect of work capability assessments (WCA) as performed by ATOS Healthcare, believes that the:

(i) inadequate computer based assessments that are used have little regard to the nature or complexity of the needs of long term sick and disabled persons

(ii) WCA should end with immediate effect and be replaced with a rigorous and safe system that does not cause avoidable harm to some of the weakest and most vulnerable in society.

The motion was carried UNANIMOUSLY

The motion originated with Black Triangle’s Dr. Stephen Carty who put it forward to the Lothian Local Medical Committee who then put it to the Scottish LMCs Conference inClydebanktwo months ago where it was carried (almost) unanimously. It was then put forward to today’s UK LMCs Conference inLiverpoolboth by the Scottish Conference and Hampshire & Isle of Wight LMC. It was voted on by GPs representing all the LMCs in theUnited Kingdomand carried unanimously. The voice ofBritain’s doctors has spoken. It is time to end the DWP/AtoS Work Capability Assessment régime “with immediate effect” Black Triangle

 

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 Posted by at 13:26
May 222012
 

Disability Politics UK is urging people to sign an e-petition to help increase the number of disabled MPs.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion, has produced a video explaining why she thinks that allowing Parliamentarians to job share would help to make Westminster more inclusive.
The e-petition ‘Allow MPs to serve on a job share basis’ reads:
We the undersigned recognise that for some disabled people (and others), a main barrier to being able to participate in public and political life is that it is not currently possible to job share as a Member of Parliament therefore we ask that the law be changed to allow MPs to serve on a job share basis.
For details of petition on Disability Politics UK website www.disabilitypolitics.org.uk
For link to Caroline Lucas’ video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rljev-8kOf0&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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 Posted by at 23:52
May 212012
 

Today the Guardian has reported that unpaid jobseekers are to be put on Workfare programmes to deliver patient care in 3 Sandwell and West Birmingham hospitals.

Workfare schemes, where unemployed workers are expected to work for their benefits, are akin to slave labour. Recent protests against the Workfare programme saw companies such as Tesco drop out rather than face protests.

It is unacceptable that Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust have started using Workfare to run their hospitals, and worse that they are preparing to use unpaid workers to deliver patient care.

While the government claimed to have ring-fenced the funding to the NHS in fact our hospitals are all facing cuts. Sandwell and West Birmingham will face £125 million cuts in the next 5 years. Andrew Lansley has driven through legislation that allows private companies like Virgin to profit from NHS contracts. Now unemployed workers are being told to run our hospitals for free.

Protest

Thursday 24th May at 5pm

Sandwell Hospital, West Bromwich, B71 4HJ. Assemble at the corner of Little Lane and All Saints Road, outside the A&E dept.

Called by Right to Work, Disabled People Against Cuts

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 Posted by at 13:48
May 212012
 

June 19th – DPAC –  RIGHT TO RIDE 

National Day of Action around lack of Accessible Transport 

In London DPAC and Transport for All will be holding a day of action around transport on 19th June.

 

We hope others will organise similar protests that day wherever they live as we’d like to highlight the problems nationally.

We will be trying to highlight the failings of the transport system as is and saying it wont be fit for purpose in the future when hundreds of thousands more people lose their benefits, and maybe also their right to passported services like motability cars, taxicards, blue badges etc and therefore are forced to use public transport.

Ian Duncan Smith is stripping people of their essential benefits and at the same time saying we should work. We want to highlight how difficult it is for disabled people to get to work using public transport. We want to show why DLA is still essential to disabled people.

We will be asking activists to attend a lobby at the House of Commons in the afternoon (time tbc), and then travel by bus to the Confederation of Passenger Transport, the umbrella body for all European bus companies in Covent Garden area.

To cause maximum but legal chaos we need as many wheelchair users, visually impaired, deaf and other disabled people to all need to use the same buses at the same time.

We would like you to invite your MPs to the lobby and ask them to travel with us on the short ride to experience first hand the issues facing disabled passengers every day.

However we also know many of you will not want to lobby your MP or go to House of Commons so if you prefer just to help us bring one of London’s bus routes to a grinding halt simply by getting on and off the buses along a specific route then please met us at 4pm either outside House of Parliament visitor entrance or at Abingdon Street bus stop, next to Victoria Tower and more or less opposite College Green.

 

 

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 Posted by at 13:18
May 202012
 

Let’s go on a journey back in time to the year 1948 …

 Britain was emerging from a World War and had a huge national debt. Much bigger than the one we face today. Did we see painful cut backs and austerity measures?

No, quite the opposite. We saw the birth of our National Health Service and the Welfare State. The UK was the first country to make health care, social care and financial security accessible to all.

1948 saw the launch of ground-breaking new laws designed to protect and care for everybody in our society, including universal unemployment benefits,, universal child benefits, disability benefits, rights to housing and the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

1948: a year when the Olympics were last in town; and the people of Britain were, at last, looking forward to the future.

Britain back then really was “all in it together”. The future looked better than the past. So, we partied in the streets and dreamt of what we could achieve as peo-ple and as a country.

 Fast forward to 2012 and things feel rather different. The government is not playing fair: its spending cuts are the deepest for decades and it’s cheating ordinary people by forcing them to suffer for an economic crisis they didn’t cause.

The government is also lying: it actively enables big business to dodge tax and slashes tax rates for the wealthy. Right now, for us, for ordinary people in this country, the future’s not what it used to be.

So now is the time to party like it was 1948. Street parties are going to be all the rage for the Queen’s Jubilee. But let’s make ours have a twist.

 On Saturday 26th May join UK Uncut’s Great British Street Party to demand that we keep our public services, our rights and our welfare system and to celebrate a new future that isn’t dictated to us by a handful of millionaires but decided by us all – together.

Join Notts Uncut at 12 noon on Listergate outside Topshop. For more info find us on Facebook – Notts-Uncut Part-of UK-Uncut, Twitter @nottsuncut or look for event info on Nottingham Indymedia.

For all actions See http://www.ukuncut.org.uk/actions

For London See: http://www.dpac.uk.net/2012/05/ukuncut-great-london-street-party-may-26th/

 

 

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May 202012
 

DPAC fully supports this alternative to the Condems austerity measures and we hope people and their organisations and groups will feel able to sign up to support it. Please share with others.

The Radical Alternative to Austerity

 
Cameron and Osborne have repeated again throughout this week that there is no alternative to their failing austerity programme.
I feel that there needs to be a clear statement from the Left that there is an alternative to austerity and it goes beyond just cutting less deep and less fast.I have set out below a brief statement of what that alternative could contain.It is not meant as a definitive statement but at least a broad depiction of what a radical alternative would comprise.I am asking people to consider putting their name to it so that we can continue to circulate it to the movement.

Please let me know if you are willing to put your name to the statement by emailing me on mcdonnellj@parliament.uk.

You can help greatly by circulating the statement as well and putting it up on your website or blog or tweeting it.

Thanks

John

The Radical Alternative to Austerity.  

The austerity programme of the Coalition government is not just failing; it is prolonging and deepening the recession. Cuts in investment in public services, in jobs, wages, pensions and benefits are creating mass unemployment and mounting hardship.

Austerity is creating a spiral of economic decline as cuts produce high levels of unemployment which in turn reduces tax income and prompts another round of cuts and job losses.

The Government’s austerity measures are also unfair as the only people the Government seems intent on protecting from the recession are the rich.

There is an alternative to austerity.

There is no lack of wealth and resources in our country that we can draw upon to tackle this recession. The problem is that this wealth and these resources are held in the hands of too few people and are not being used productively to create the growth and jobs we need.

If we can release these resources, we can overcome the current recession and start to build a prosperous future for our country, linking with others across Europe and the United States to overcome this global economic gridlock.

Releasing the resources within our own country is not difficult.

It simply requires the introduction of a limited range of redistributive measures which will raise the funds we need from those most able to pay and who have profited most out of the boom years.

This redistribution can be achieved through;

a wealth tax on the richest 10%,

a Robin Hood tax on financial transactions,

a Land Value tax,

the restoration of progressive income tax of 60% on incomes above £100,000

and a clamp down on the tax evasion and avoidance that is costing us £95 billion a year.

Investing the resources released can halt the spiral of decline.

With unemployment rising month by month we urgently need to get people back to work and earning a decent living.

We can do this by investing the resources we have released through taxation in modernising our economy, its infrastructure and our public services to meet the needs of our community.

Instead of cutting and privatising our health, education and local services, this means:

Investing in a mass public housing building and renovation programme, in universal childcare, in the modernisation of our public services, in the NHS, in creating a national Caring Service, in our schools and colleges, in our transport infrastructure and in the extension of broadband.

Investing in alternative energy, combined heat and power and insulation to both tackle climate change and create one million climate change jobs.

Establishing a national investment bank with the resources levied from the banks so that there is no shortage of funds to lend for manufacturing growth and research and development.

To be successful the recovery programme has to be fair.

We will need the support of a significant majority of our people if we are to drive through this type of radical regeneration and redistribution programme.

To gain this level of support means the Radical Alternative must be seen to be fair. This means addressing many of the inequalities of our current system.

For those at the top it means ending the bonuses and limiting high salaries to no more than 20 times the lowest paid in any company or organisation.

For all others it means replacing the minimum wage with a living wage and a living pension and living welfare benefits, reducing the working week to 35 hours, closing the gender pay gap, controlling rents and energy prices, and restoring rights at work.

For young people it means a guaranteed job, apprenticeship, training or college place for every young person with the burden of fees abolished.

There is no shortage of resources to implement this programme of reform.

The problem is the distribution of these resources.

The Radical Alternative simply releases the resources we have to regain control of our economy and invest in our future.

Never again can we let them say that there is no alternative.

Click link for fantastic infographick on the radical alternative to austerity from Stephen many thanks to him   http://www.stephenleehodgkins.net/Grog.html 
 

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 Posted by at 16:30
May 192012
 
ANNOUNCEMENT
This announcement is to inform all those people who have supported Victims of Atos Corruption website that it will be closing down at the end of May 2012, my brand new website can be found at –www.atosvictimsgroup.co.uk , I hope that all of my previous supporters will come to my new site, a site that is much improved that will develop over time.
I have had much support and couldn’t of achieved this without the support of a very good friend who has provided me with free space on his server.
I would be very grateful If you could pass this info on to anyone you know.
Thanks again to all of my supporters out there, you’ve all been wonderful.
Any of you who have already got this info I apologise.  
 
Paul Smith (Atos Victims Group)
 

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 Posted by at 18:48
May 192012
 

An application has been made by members of the Mental Health Resistance Network for permission to have a Judicial Review of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) and a judge has decided that there should be a hearing to decide whether to grant us the Judicial Review.

The hearing will happen at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand in London on Friday 29th June. We won’t know until the day before what time it will be heard. 

With thanks to MHRN for letting us publicise this. It is MHRN who have pushed this through, not any big charity -remember most activism is coming from grassroots groups-rather than well funded charities who like to try to claim the credit.

Lets support MHRN as much as we can with this great achievement on 29th June-hopefully the first of many challenges to the corrupt WCA…..

 

 

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May 162012
 

*Climate Justice Collective meeting*
*Saturday 2nd June 2012*
*12 noon – 6pm*

*Manchester Metropolitan Students Union (top floor)*
*Oxford Road, MANCHESTER (M1 7EL)*

Following on from the Winter Warm Up in January (http://bit.ly/KyHO9r),
and the Big Six Energy Bash in May (http://bit.ly/KyHZBJ), join us for a
day of reflection and future planning:

— How can we continue to connect the dots between economic, climate and
social injustices?
— How can we strengthen links between the anti-cuts movement, Occupy,
community action and climate groups?

*Agenda for the Day:*

Welcome and introduction to CJC for new comers

Brief updates from other initiatives (eg Fuel Poverty Action,
BiofuelWatch, Kick Nuclear, Frack Off, Plane Stupid, Campaign against
Climate Change, Occupy, UK Tar Sands Network)  – unconfirmed –

Reflecting on the Big Six Bash mass action.

CJC + Climate Camp – doing things differently

Planning for the Future

*What is CJC?*

Climate Justice Collective is a grassroots network of UK groups and
individuals. We support and take action against the root causes of climate
change and for a clean, affordable, democratic energy system. CJC formed
out of the Camp for Climate Action following its decision not to organise
on a national level in 2011.

For more info see: http://climatejusticecollective.org/#/about/4561591358

A travel pool will be made available to help cover transport costs.

A kidspace can be made available – please email
manchester@climatecamp.org.uk if you think you might require one.
Likewise if you think you need crashspace.

www.ClimateJusticeCollective.org

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May 162012
 

Housing for the 99 are planning another meeting for 7pm on Thursday 24 May, again at the Grayston Centre, Charles Square, N1 6HT (nearest tube: Old Street). This is to start fleshing out plans for a campaign, including discussing how to organise and what actions we might take (and maybe come up with a name – ideas welcome!) Everyone that wants to be involved in these discussions is welcome – private tenants especially.

A couple of other things:

There are quite a few housing-related events coming up:

If you’d like to get involved with an existing housing or private tenants group in your area, the following groups are already active locally:

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 Posted by at 19:21
May 162012
 

meeting point details for the Welfare Bloc at UK Uncut’s Great London Street Party.

Meet at 11am, Waterloo Station Concourse, Saturday 26th May.

This weblink has info on accessibility and meeting points – please circulate it with activists and friends: http://ukuncut.org.uk/blog/meeting-points-for-london-action

It’s at a kick-ass secret location and we’ve got some cheeky tricks up our sleeves, so we hope you can make it!

The Welfare Bloc is for people fighting back against welfare cuts.  It’s the most accessible bloc for the party.

Disabled participants have the option of travelling via a more accessible route that is direct and reduces changing modes of transport.  We have checked the travel plans with disabled activists, and we can provide accessible transport from Waterloo to the party, including taxis.

If you’ve got any specific needs, or you’re concerned about travel on the day, please emailukuncut@gmail.com so we can make arrangements for everyone.

You can find out more about the Great London Street Party and sign up to it on the Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/events/232452506855123/

Stuff the jubilee, fight the cuts!

IMPORTANT

Please let us know at mail@dpac.uk.net or uku (email above) know as early as possible if you’re going so we have an idea of transport logistics on the day.

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 Posted by at 16:17
May 162012
 

If you enjoyed the atmosphere at – and the participatory nature of – last
year’s Rebellious Media Conference then we believe you’ll enjoy the Peace News
Summer Camp, now in its fourth year.

Bring your contribution to a hothouse of creativity, a small self-governed
society run by democratic camp meetings, a viable example of the kind of world
we are trying to bring about. The Peace News Summer Camp helps build a radical
movement for the future by building a living community today.

MAKING NONVIOLENT REVOLUTION is this year’s theme, with a whole-day workshop
co-facilitated by renowned US activist George Lakey (see
http://tinyurl.com/lakeytour) and Seeds for Change (www.seedsforchange.org.uk).

Other workshops include (all titles provisional):

Eyewitness Afghanistan with Maya Evans

Diversity of Tactics with Mika Minio-Paluello, Smash EDO & George Lakey

Parking the Car … For Good with Bicycology

Meat: A Benign Extravagance with Simon Fairlie

Building at the Grassroots: Radical Community Organising with Dave Morris and

Anne-Marie O’Reilly

Militarisation of the Borders with No Borders

How to Create a Protest Camp with Faslane Peace Camp

The Oil Road: A Journey to the Heart of the Oil Economy with Platform

(www.platformlondon.org)

Effective Affinity Groups with Rhizome (www.rhizome.coop)

Right on Our Doorstep: Local Campaigning Against the Military-Industrial

Complex with Smash EDO and anti-drones campaigners

Make Cake, Not War with Veggies

Practical Solidarity with the London Catholic Worker and the Traveller

Solidarity Network

What’s Not Being Cut with Anne-Marie O’Reilly (CAAT) and CND (tbc)

Occupy and the Limits of Consensus with Alison Playford, Sam Halvorsen &

George Lakey

Chomsky’s Politics with Milan Rai

Building Revolutionary Bases: Learning from Movement for a New Society (MNS)

with George Lakey

Swords Into Ploughshares: Campaigning Against Climate Change with Clare

Cochrane (Climate Justice Collective)

PLUS: delicious vegan food cooked by Veggies of Nottingham, music, film, fun
and participatory entertainment, a bar, campfires, and activities and
facilities for kids and families.

We will be camping in a family-friendly and renewably-powered way from 26 to 30
July 2012 in the beautiful grounds of Crabapple Community, near Shrewsbury in
Shropshire. Join us!

Book on-line now: www.peacenewscamp.info

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 Posted by at 15:16
May 162012
 

July 7th to 14th – at sites across London
Applications due Monday, June 11th

If you are aged 16 – 30 and see injustice, pollution, racism, poverty in your community and want support in how to effectively tackle these issues, or know someone who is, then read on! ‘So We Stand’ Summer School is an intensive 1-week introduction to community organizing and social change.

The School exists to harness our anger at economic, environmental, racial and social oppression. The School exists to catalyse self-organisation + self-mobilisation into building strength in our communities to defend and confront oppression over the coming years. The School is chiefly dedicated to building the skills of young women, young people of colour, working class people, and queer people and those with different mental and physical abilities as the next generation of leaders in the social justice movement. Limited places welcome to people all across the UK – please email sowestand@gmail.com for an application form ASAP.

The School aspires to turn marginalisation and isolation into politically powerful support systems, ideas for actions and long term strategic organising. We will be challenged with new ways of thinking, provocative speakers, inspiring mentors and fascinating guests with a deep understanding of engaging with the head, heart and hand. Youth affected by economic inequality understand oppression because it is daily life – you don’t need to read it in a textbook. The School exists to harness our anger at oppression and turn our anger into political organising against it. The School exists to encourage self-determination and self-mobilisation into building positive communities who can defend and confront oppression over the coming years. We’re looking for advice or involvement in any of those areas. Join us for a week of experiences and ideas, and help us change things.

SWS provides a transformative framework to develop your organising skills, methods for empowerment and political education. SWS Summer School is organised around 3 pillars:

1. COMMUNITY ORGANISING + EMPOWERMENT LEARNING – to deepen the context of power and resistance in the UK. The educational tools will strengthen knowledge for our community based projects work within working class communities and communities of colour, fighting alongside people for their rights along with examples for global fights for hands on, effective community power. We shall look into how to turn marginalisation and isolation into politically powerful support systems, ideas for actions and long term strategic visions. Participants will be challenged with new ways of thinking, provocative speakers, inspiring mentors and fascinating guests from a range of communities facing injustice. Together, we will develop ideas for hands-on, effective, community projects.

2. EMPOWERMENT ORGANISING MENTORS –  to build long-term relationships with those who participate, through mentoring with activist elders, peer support, more frequent workshops and through participation in events within the local community, at youth centres and social nights to deepen the practice of critical community organising. The mentor programme will continue relationship building between front-line activists and supporters to deepen transformative possibilities for greater positive change and strategic visioning for movement building today.

3. SKILLS TRAINING – to learn the tools to build power and excitement in your community to tackle injustice. The trainings will be a building block to deepen within your organising internships. You will develop skills such as popular education, storytelling, building connections across cultures, radical education, direct action, monitoring police brutality, reclaiming space, spoken word and creating conscious music, anti-oppression organising, anti-racist and environmental justice training.

SWS Summer School is ideally a week-long full-time commitment. You’ll spend at least 25 hours in the week in our political education + skills training sessions. SWS intends to provide practical support you may need and expenses will be covered. Everyone involved in the School – organisers, volunteers, attendees, speakers and facilitators –  are active participants and will build the curriculum to sort all our needs.

In the meantime we need mass involvement to enable the School to reach its full power. If you have a little or a lot of time and want to gain experience in organising empowering and action orientated education programmes for our people on the frontline of injustice then please simply email sowestand@gmail.com or call 0044 (0) 7514326539. If you have further questions about SWS Summer School into social justice and community organising, please get in contact ASAP.

So We Stand – stand shoulder to shoulder with communities on the front-lines of social, racial and environmental injustice.
 

By dan glass
15th May 2012

 reposted from: http://www.campaigncentral.org.uk/opinion/so-we-stand-summer-activism-school-introduction-community-organising-and-social-change-2012

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May 152012
 


Press release

Experts Say Landmark Judgement Will Stop Benefit System Discriminating Against Disabled

 Leading Lawyer Says Court of Appeal Ruling Confirms Government Has to Give Special Provision To Disabled People So That Human Rights Are Not Breached

Experts at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed a landmark judgement handed down at the Court of Appeal today which they say sets out clear guidance to ensure that disabled people are not discriminated against by the Government’s benefit system.

Three families challenged the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (DWP) which stated that local authorities could not provide housing benefit for extra bedrooms needed by four young disabled people who were living in private rented accommodation.

Public law experts at Irwin Mitchell, representing the lead case, said DWP breached the British Human Rights law by not allowing their housing benefit claims to be treated differently to those of non-disabled people, which would have given them the extra provision needed.

And their view was backed by the Court, who ruled that “without the benefit of the extra room rate, Ian Burnip would be left in a worse position than an able bodied person living alone”.

Polly Sweeney, Solicitor for Ian Burnip at Irwin Mitchell said, “This Judgment has widespread implications for policy-making and is crucial to promoting equality for disabled people and assisting them to live independently. Whenever the Government introduces new policies, or reviews existing policies, they now face a duty to ensure that appropriate provision is made for disabled people to ensure that discrimination does not occur.“

The Court recognised that the object of Ian Burnip’s claim was not to give him some form of preferential treatment, but merely to ensure that housing benefit can fulfil its intended function for those who are so severely disabled that they need 24 hour care.

Lord Justice Maurice Kay, Vice President of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, said in his Judgment that:

“Disability can be expensive. It can give rise to needs which do not attach to the able-bodied and Ian Burnip and the late Lucy Trengove provide stark examples”.

Specialists at the firm say today’s judgement will have a huge impact on discrimination in the benefits system, and will ensure that the Government now ensures there is a appropriate provision when considering disabled people’s needs.

In the lead case, Ian Burnip, represented by Irwin Mitchell, was told by Birmingham City Council that he could not claim local housing allowance (LHA) to cover an extra bedroom he needed for an overnight care worker.

A second case involved Rebecca Trengove whose daughter Lucy, who has since sadly passed away, was unable to secure the LHA she needed for an extra room for an overnight care worker from Walsall Council.

During the course of the Appeal process, the local housing allowance rules on extra bedrooms were changed by the Government and, since April 2011, extra LHA is now given to disabled people who need a bedroom for an overnight care worker.

However, a third case heard by the Court of Appeal was not affected by the coalition’s new rules. Richard Gorry, the father of two disabled children, one who has a physical impairment and the other who has autism, wanted Wiltshire County Council to provide enough LHA for his children to have separate bedrooms. This ruling will now ensure that he is awarded a rate of housing benefit which reflects his daughters’ accepted needs to sleep in separate rooms and ensure that they can afford to live in adequate and suitable housing.

The Court of Appeal found that discrimination had occurred in all three cases and that their human rights had been breached even though the appropriate provisions being sought for the disabled people required additional public expenditure.

Ian Burnip’s mother Linda, who set up the Local Housing Allowance Reform Group to campaign for changes in the system, said: “Winning this case reinforces disabled people’s right to not be discriminated against within the benefits system and also affirms their rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We hope that the case will help other disabled people who feel that they have been discriminated by government policies and law”.

 ENDS

  Contact Details:

PR Officer

Irwin Mitchell Press Office: 01142744666

 

Irwin Mitchell

 

Irwin Mitchell celebrates its centenary this year and is one of the largest law firms in the UK. The firm employs more than 2100 staff and has more than 150 Partners helping over 200,000 clients a year. There are offices in Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Bristol and Sheffield as well as a consulting office in Leicester and two offices in Spain. For more information visit www.irwinmitchell.com

The firm won an award for its innovative corporate strategy and was also named in the Industry Pioneers category at the annual ‘FT Innovative Lawyers’ awards in 2011. It was ranked in the Top 50 litigators in the world by The Lawyer magazine and in 2010 was named as one of the leading companies in the country for commitment to local communities in the prestigious Business in the Community’s (BITC) annual Corporate Responsibility Index.

Recognised in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 for a unique client-focused approach, Irwin Mitchell won the acclaimed Claimant Solicitor of the Year award (Rehabilitation Awards).

Other accolades include being listed among the top five Most Diverse Law firms in the UK by the Black Solicitors Network. The Legal Sector Alliance also found Irwin Mitchell to have the 2nd Lowest Carbon Footprint of any UK law firm.

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May 142012
 

DPAC are delighted to have been given the authorisation to post 2 very important pieces of work about hate crime produced by Anne Novis who was awarded an MBE for her work in this area. Anne continues to collect information and campaign vigorously against hate crime through the Disability Hate Crime Network.

 

Action Now Report

On Disability Related Hostility by Anne Novis

September 2010

 

Anne Novis is a disability activist, Independent Adviser to the ‘Metropolitan Police Service’ and ‘British Transport Police’, Advisor to the ‘Metropolitan Police Authority Hate Crime Board’ and Advisor on the ‘Ministry of Justice Hate Crime Advisory Group’. Co- Chair of the MPS Disability Independent Advisory Group for six years and recently received a commendation from the MPS for all her ‘relevant and timely advice’.

Anne is also a member and facilitator of the ‘Disability Hate Crime Network’ face book site

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=304401563986

 

Anne has authored, and contributed to, several recent key reports on disability hate crime.

 ‘Getting away with Murder disabled people’s experience of hate crime in the UK’ authored by Katherine Quarmby, co produced by UKDPC and Scope,

The ‘Snap Shot Report’ on disability targeted hostility during a three month period in 2010,

The Bigger Picture Report’ which details 68 killings and over 500 disability targeted incidents and crimes against disabled people found in the media and online in the last three years.

 

This new report, and the previous two, has been produced as evidence for the EHRC inquiry into disability related harassment.

 

Introduction

In this report I offer for consideration my personal views and actions I would like to see initiated about disability hate crime or targeted hostility towards disabled people. Also more detailed information about the evidence I have gathered.

 

I have for many years saved evidence about hostility towards disabled people from media articles, blogs, and message boards and from individuals shared experiences.

 

All recent evidence I have collected has been submitted to the EHRC inquiry. This includes details of  68 murders and over 500 other attacks/incidents against disabled people  over the last three years. Obviously this is the very small tip of a very large iceberg!

 

There remains much I personally would like to see captured in this EHRC inquiry, and for public services to consider, as well as ideas which come from years of experience campaigning on this issue and advising the police.

 

Recommendations

I ask that a pan-impairment approach is undertaken, consistent with the Social Model of Disability, which recognises all work on this issue needs to be undertaken for all disabled people not just one group in isolation of others.

This leads to injustice and unfair approaches disregarding the joint experience of disabled people.

 

Taking a stance, based on very limited research, that one group or the other of disabled people experiences more hostility, then others, is not appropriate. This is what we call a Medical Model approach, one based on what our medical conditions, or impairments are, rather then what the issue is really about. This also leads to a focus of responses being based on the victim changing the way they live rather then the perpetrator being profiled and reasons why we are attacked.

 

Whilst recognising specific responses at local level may be needed to ensure access for disabled people this should not be divisive or separate us from one another. Segregation is an archaic response one disabled people have fought against for many years. Work with all disabled people and then diverse responses can be formed.

 

Data from media articles gives us only a glimpse into the reality of disabled people’s experiences yet it is part of the bigger picture which can be added to other evidence. Many police services and individuals working inUKregions as equality workers or hate crime officers, and DPOs, have appreciated accessing the media articles for their region.

 

Strategic responses should be integrated and ensure equality of service provision and justice. Funding must be prioritised to enable disabled peoples own organisations to be developed and enabled to work locally on this issue. This does not mean just funding local service provision such as advocacy, it means enabling a national DPO, like UKDPC, to produce and disseminate training and materials that would empower our local DPOs to be effectively engaged in multi-agency partnerships, hate crime boards, engage with local police and become Third Party reporting sites as well as do research.

 

Just because not all disabled people understand or work on this issue does not mean this can be used as an excuse to exclude us. Enable the experts in our own organisations to share their knowledge across theUK.

 

 

Response to evidence gathered

Over the last three years over 70 disabled people have been killed yet we wait to see an appropriate response to such targeted crime. On the main news channels only a handful of these murders/killings/deaths have been broadcast so few realise the bigger picture.

Some disabled people were killed by relatives, others by so called friends, some as a result of physical assault that led to death, young people committing arson attacks on mobility equipment or throwing fireworks into a house led to deaths and some were deliberately planned tortures and murders. One man said he killed his wife due to lack of care support, he then killed himself.

 

Action needed about murders/killings

  1. Recognise that intervention is required urgently to ensure no one feels they have no choice but to kill a disabled person just because they cannot cope with caring for them.
  2. There is an urgent need for risk assessments and Equality Impact Assessment’s to be undertaken on the impending cuts to Social Care funding and the wider consequences this will have.
  3. All must challenge the justice system not to allow ’mercy killings’ as a justification for murder.
  4. Recording and monitoring of all crimes against disabled people must be initiated promptly in recognition of the escalating attacks and murders against us.
  5. Cases that clearly demonstrate an attack, or murder, that is aggravated by the victim being a disabled person must be recognised and used in all judicial process.
  6. Legislation around Hate Crime needs to be made equal for all, giving disabled people the same protection in law as others who experience attacks due to identity.
  7. This means including ‘disability’ in Incitement legislation as well as recognising Disability Hate Crime as a crime in and of itself rather then just an aggravating factor.
  8. The police need to set targets around disability hate crime. Most other forms of hate crime have performance targets, and are aimed at the number of perpetrators who are arrested and brought to justice (charged or cautioned), which are called ‘Sanction Detection Rates’. Whilst it is generally accepted that this is not always the best indicator of performance,  a performance measure is urgently required to be introduced so the profile of disability hate crime is increased, and the police can start focusing on improving low reporting rates and improve the quality of investigations and outcomes.

 

Tortures

Some disabled people have been targeted by families, or groups of people, who subject the person to torture over a prolonged period of time. Humiliation, sexual abuse, starvation, repeated beatings, burns, shaving off all hair, abuse with household objects and parts of their body cut off or stabbed. Another aspect is the filming of the humiliation and abuse, and then these videos are shared for ‘fun’ and mockery of the disabled person. Several of the cases found have been perpetuated by young people under 18 who therefore receive very low sentences of two to four years for such serious crimes.

Actions

  1. Enforcement of Article 15(2) of the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people (UNCRPD), which states explicitly that:

‘States Parties shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’

  1. Punishment of such crimes with the full recourse of the law for those young people who fully understand the consequences of such crimes.
  2. Review of such cases by the justice system, and advisement on changes needed to the law so that justice can be implemented accordingly.
  3. Recognition that such persistent attacks are aggravated due to the impairments of the victim and as such all sentences should be enhanced.

 

Rape and sexual abuse

Rape and sexual abuse can affect any disabled person. Many cases seem to be by carers/professionals working in the victim’s home or care environment but such assaults have also randomly occurred on the streets. Some disabled people have been targeted in accessible toilets, on public transport or in vehicles that transport disabled people to day centres or residential care.

 

Some victims have been raped by several people as well as being violently attacked in other ways. Disabled men and women with a range of impairments have experienced rape and sexual assaults.

When disabled people have reported rape they have experienced social barriers such as lack of accessible examination/support centres, communication difficulties. Further still, often a victim of such abuse is not believed or respected as a credible witness thereby denying the victim redress in law.

 

Domestic Violence

This is a common experience for disabled people. Out of over 70 murders in the last three years 12 were by relatives. Disabled men also get attacked by partners, or by a relative, yet this is an issue many ignore. Refuges and support has mainly been set up for women.

 

Furthermore, adult sons and daughters attack disabled parents sometimes due to the frustrations of caring responsibilities, other times due to wanting money or an inheritance.

 

It has not been possible to find many reports of domestic violence against disabled people in the media, except the murders, due to the nature of this crime and also because half as many women are sharing their experiences with the media. Due to the stigma around domestic violence men also find it difficult to reveal they have been a victim of such abuse.

 

In one case a physically disabled man was stabbed by his wife, who is also his carer, she was let off a custodial sentence and given a work order of 150 hours. Such light punishment infers disabled peoples lives are not as valuable as others.

 

However, some good research has been processed, around disabled people and domestic violence; this includes the Women’s Aid report –

 

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-articles.asp?section=00010001002200080001&itemid=1351

 

Actions

  1. Rape reporting/examination centres need to ensure accessibility as well as training for staff on Disability Equality.
  2. Non-compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Duties is an issue that must be addressed so all victims of rape can access all services and support available.
  3. Refuges for victims of domestic violence need to ensure accessibility for a wide range of disabled people.
  4. Refuges and support for victims of domestic violence also need to address the issues of disabled men being victims and ensure their services are appropriate for them.
  5. Research into the prevalence of domestic violence against disabled men is also recommended.
  6. Appropriate levels of support are required for carers of disabled people and urgent attention given to those carers who state they are not coping.
  7. No person should be placed in a situation where they feel their only option is to kill a disabled child, of any age, or relative due to lack of social support.
  8. Implementation of Article 16(3) of the UNCRPD that states: ‘In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities.’ And that;
  9. Article 16(5): ‘Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women – and child – focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.’

 

Carer Abuse

Carer abuse takes many forms: verbal harassment, theft, rape and sexual abuse, physical violence and murder. Many disabled people have paid carers in their homes in a position of trust; this gives opportunities for theft or other forms of abuse. Nurses and care workers have also abused their position of trust, verbally abusing, mocking, harassing and physically assaulting disabled people in their care.

 

Disabled people have been burnt with cigarettes or boiling bath water, pictures taken of them naked and distributed around the home, roughly manhandled, slapped and beaten.

 

In July 2010 an inquiry has revealed 44 claims of abuse, in a care home for people with learning difficulties. The police are now investigating these claims which include withholding of food and drink, being locked in cupboards and taken to well known sexual abuse ‘hot spots’ (according to media statements) as well as clients being left on their bus whilst carers went shopping for themselves.

 

999 Controllers recorded one incident of ambulance men deciding a physically disabled man’s life was not worth saving due to disability and mess in his home.

 

Couples with learning difficulties live in anxiety and fear of their children being taken from them due to an archaic policy that assesses the ability of the disabled person to be ‘good enough’ parent’s rather then supporting disabled parents in their responsibilities – as is done around individual disabled people with other impairments. Such actions are a violation of human rights and a form of targeted hostility from public services that needs to be addressed urgently.

 

There are not many recorded reports of these abuses, possibly due to disabled people not able to speak out without assistance or worried that reporting such abuse may makes things worse for them. This atmosphere of fear, lack of transparency and often the policies themselves which were meant to provide protection can restrict reporting.

 

 

Actions

  1. There is much work progressed on safeguarding disabled people from some of these abuses but failures are common so more in depth work is required ensuring disabled people themselves are involved and advising on such policies.
  2. Training is required for disabled people who employ their own Personal Assistants around assessing and addressing safeguarding issues.
  3. Policies that violate disabled persons human rights must be urgently reviewed and changed.
  4. An independent process for disabled people in care, or using care resources like day centres, needs to be developed where they can communicate concerns or report abuse. This needs to be accessible and provide effective independent support to raise a complaint and see it through to the end.
  5. Fear of reprisal is an issue for victims when reporting an incident, although this should be addressed in any safeguarding action plan, many potential victims have no awareness of this policy. A positive campaign encouraging reporting in care settings to independent advocates, who would also share information on protection, for possible victims is recommended.

 

Disabled children

Disabled children are experiencing abuse, bullying, harassment and physical attacks in and outside schools.

 

From the evidence collected, disabled young people have been murdered, threatened, robbed, sexually abused in school and other care environments, raped, burnt, beaten up by gangs of older teenagers and adults, tortured and filmed for ‘fun’.

One boy who is a wheelchair user was slapped by burglars in his home, one boy alleges repeated sexual abuse by a social worker, one boy who uses crutches was attacked by a gang as he waited for a bus, one young girl stamped on and beaten, one disabled baby was verbally insulted in a shop by an assistant and one boy’s home was targeted for an arson attack.

 

Equipment which assist the disabled child has been targeted vandalised or stolen; such as a school sensory garden trashed three times, specialist sailing equipment damaged leading to closure of the sailing initiative for disabled children. In one area three adapted buses for disabled children were vandalised resulting in the children missing out on school lessons.

 

Many disabled people view ‘bullying’ incited by the victim’s impairment as a form of targeted hostility and hate crime that needs to be addressed.

Schools and teaching staff are often slow to take disablist bullying seriously.

Often, disabled children experience repeated attacks by the same groups of people.

 

The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) has evidence of one instance of a disabled child being repeatedly bullied yet when the parent asked for help the head teacher suggested the child should ‘just get used to being teased’. One article detailed a case where one deaf girl became a focus for repeated bullying, physical assault and threats to kill. The school refused to acknowledge there was a problem even when the disabled girl wanted to kill herself. The school stated it was ‘just kids being kids’.

 

Another case involves a young boy with multiple impairments who was excluded from school photographs. The head teacher suggested the boy have a section of the playground to separate him from other children. One play assistant described him as ‘a horrible boy’ in front of a playground of children. The parents felt he was just regarded as a ‘naughty child’, marginalised, harassed and excluded by their attitudes. The school eventually decided they could not meet the boy’s needs within the government’s policy of inclusion of disabled children in mainstream school.

 

Whilst not advocating punishing the young person doing the bullying I do expect the school to implement a robust anti bullying policy.  The policy should recognise all similar attacks as situations that need to be dealt with by working with their community of staff and students and challenging the prejudice behind such attacks.

 

Bullying and hostility towards disabled children and young people also can occur in Special Schools which are often seen as ‘safe havens’. This assumption that such schools do not have such issues must be challenged and the reality addressed.

 

In the past I have provided counselling to disabled children in aSpecialSchool. They shared fears and anxieties when they are ‘picked on’ by other children and sometimes those in authority. The lack of belief about what disabled people experience is a common factor for all ages.

 

Many young disabled people are also being targeted on public streets by gangs and individuals who think it is ‘fun’ to harass, demean, and physically hurt them. Verbal harassment often takes place first, then obstruction of the persons movements, then physical assault.

 

There is also evidence of increasing attacks on disabled children in some church environments. The children are deemed as ‘possessed by evil spirits’ or ‘witches’ and therefore to be punished and exorcised. One child was found with the burn mark of an iron on her back, others punched and beaten for behavioural difficulties.

Actions

  1. Training is required in schools that facilitate discussion, and awareness, about disability equality for staff and children. This could be facilitated by disabled young people themselves and via active participative methods with support from disabled adults.
  2. There should be a mechanism to monitor effectiveness of Education providers anti bullying policy – through OFSTED or other bodies.
  3. A DVD and Toolkit developed for use in schools, by disabled people, to initiate and raise awareness of disability targeted hostility would be very useful.
  4. Abuse of disabled children is not acceptable in any environment or institution yet the reality is their voice is barely heard. Whilst there are child specific help lines for abuse, the nature of a child’s impairment can add a barrier that is often not overcome by the service provider. Such service providers should have as a requirement of funding their accessibility assessed. This is a legal duty under the DDA.
  5. All religious establishments and places of worship in theUK, regardless of cultural differences, must abide by the laws of this land and the human rights of the individual child. Information and awareness-raising in such institutions is urgently required to address this growing concern. We also need to see appropriate legal measures taken against those who perpetuate such abuse of disabled children.
  6.  Accessible reporting sites could be set up in schools, youth centres and other places where young people go or gather. These need to ensure they are available to the child, or young disabled person, in a safe environment which encourages them to share their experiences as well as being supported.
  7. Some Peer Support schemes have been set up in schools which could be widened in remit for disabled children and young people
  8. The Safe Haven scheme for people with learning difficulties could also be assessed for its suitability for disabled children and young people.
  9. A Disability History Month for schools would enable a focus to be placed on celebrating disabled peoples lives and would begin to breakdown the unhelpful stereotyping that drives bullying and harassment of disabled children and young people.

 

Incidents in disabled people’s homes

Some assaults and robberies have occurred in the disabled persons home, the level of physical attack being extreme when considering the lack of physical ability of some disabled people to defend themselves.

A few burglars have seriously attacked a disabled victim whilst in bed, unable to move without assistance.

Some incidents involve neighbour disputes becoming more and more hostile at times leading to murder.

Actions

  1. Targeted hostility by neighbours is a feature of many attacks and murders. Landlords and social housing providers need to ensure they are addressing this issue as is their duty under the DDA re eliminating harassment against disabled people.
  2. Advocacy services specific to this issue are required and recommended in local disabled peoples organisations (DPOs) wherever possible.
  3. Understanding from all involved that low level irritations, or targeted hostility, can lead to violent crimes against disabled people in their homes or neighbourhood is essential. Training could be provided by a local DPO or Disability Consultant to Multi Agency Safeguarding Panels and Hate Crime Boards at local levels.
  4. Housing Mediation Centres would be well placed to try and resolve such low level irritations but they must be staffed by well trained people who understand the Social Model of Disability. As these are voluntary organisations the local authorities who support them could ensure this as a condition of funding.
  5. Safer Neighbourhood Policing teams need to ensure they are in contact with disabled people in their areas and addressing security and safety issues as well as what may be called anti-social behaviour.
  6. Schemes that ensure disabled people are accessing as much security as possible for their homes are recommended.

 

Assault and robbery

The evidence I submitted only focussed on robberies that included significant hostility. In many cases the theft seems to be a minor outcome of a targeted physical attack rather then the reason a disabled person is targeted. Often items stolen are found damaged or thrown away.

 

Where there has been actual theft of money or valuables the levels of the assaults are often far more extreme then required to steal such goods. Crutches, hearing aids, dark glasses, and other aids are being stolen and damaged.

Actions

  1. Police need to ensure they are recognising the nature of such assaults and robberies and recording them as hate incidents if the crime has obviously taken place due to a person being disabled or if the victim perceives, or feels, they were attacked for this reason.
  2. Many such crimes are not being recorded or investigated appropriately and doing an injustice to the experience of the victim.
  3. Currently legislation will only recognise disability as an aggravating factor for a crime such as assault and robbery yet is often not used. Until we get better legislation disabled people are looking to see a much wider user of the protection we have in law. Therefore all police officers need training to recognise when a crime has been aggravated by the person’s impairment.
  4. Using the excuse that a person is ‘vulnerable’ and that is why they are attacked is not acceptable anymore. We all are vulnerable when someone wants to attack or target us for crime. Better recording and recognition of such crimes is essential

 

Befriending/Grooming of disabled people

Evidence I found shows that befriending, personal assistance and formal caring often can lead to targeted hostility. This has led to murders, vicious physical attacks, torture and persistent harassment and theft of the victim’s money. The nature of such ‘grooming’ and ‘befriending’ can take the form of a person forming a caring/friendship role, deliberately spending time with the disabled person socially, offering to assist with household chores, shopping etc. This then places them in the position of accessing bank accounts or welfare benefits. Others control the disabled person in such ways that they become dependent on the ‘friend’ leading to abuse, torture and at times murder.

Actions

  1. It is not possible to safeguard all disabled people to the degree required to prevent such abuse but educating and raising awareness about this type of crime would assist. It has been mainly disabled people with care and support needs who have been victims of such crimes so extra input for these disabled people by social services, specific user led organisations and disabled peoples organisations setting up awareness raising projects would be of value.
  2. Advocacy projects, run by and for disabled people, are essential.  Anyone experiencing this, or other sorts of abuse, can then speak about their experiences in accessible ways.
  3. Peer support is another method which could give a safe place for disabled people to share concerns.
  4. Police visiting and becoming familiar with places disabled people go and increasing their presence and building relationships could encourage reporting.

 

Repeat victimisation

This is an experience of many disabled people and is leading to some trying to protect themselves either with disability equipment, such as walking sticks, or as in one case a repeat victim buying a fake gun to try and prevent the repeated attacks he experienced. It has been a saddening experience to read that such victims have actually been charged with a crime by police who then ignore the perpetrators of the repeat attacks.

 

  1. The lack of understanding by police officers around disability hate crime is not acceptable. Whilst recognising that many have not had training on this specific issue, they have received equality and hate crime training. All this knowledge should be easily transferable regarding disability targeted hostility or hate crime. Yet the reality is there is a significant lack of understanding and also lack of recording or monitoring.
  2. National recording of disability hate crime is meant to start in April 2011. It has been disheartening to see this start date postponed yet again at a time when people are beginning to believe disabled people about what they experience. For us to have confidence in the police they must respond more urgently to such issues.
  3. IT Systems used by police need to ensure they can capture information about repeat victimisation.

 

Attacks on wheelchair and mobility scooter users

Over the last three years I have found over 90 wheelchair and mobility scooter users were physically assaulted, verbally abused, harassed and/or victims of assault and robbery. All of these happened on local high streets or near the wheelchair user’s home. It is common for wheelchair users to be tipped out of their chairs as part of the physical attacks. This has led to some victims being left stranded on a pathway unable to call or access assistance for some time adding to the distress of the victim. It is also a practice that leads to significant harm to the wheelchair user.

 

These attacks can happen even when the wheelchair user is with someone else so this is not just about the thinking these people are easy targets or ‘vulnerable’.

Actions

  1. Providers of such equipment need to be ensuring they raise awareness of the user around this type of hostility and making available added safety equipment such as audio alarms or direct link to police via a specific radio or mobile phone attachment. New technology offers many imaginative options which could be explored to enhance the safety of wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
  2. Local police need to raise awareness of wheelchair and mobility scooters users about what they can do to be safer or how to respond to such attacks.
  3. Some schemes have provided self defence classes for users of this equipment this could be explored in more depth by local DPOs.
  4. Equally we need to see the police taking firm action against such criminals, using the full recourse of the law, and recognising the ‘hate’ element.

 

Public Transport

Many disabled people have also been harassed and attacked on public transport. Sometimes this is due to disputes about the designated wheelchair space on buses with parents with baby buggies. Often this has led to the disabled person not getting on the bus due to the targeted abuse they experience. Some disabled people with learning difficulties can become a target that is followed onto public transport to ridicule, harass and/or attack.

 

The drivers of buses also sometimes enable such harassment by not reporting incidents, not supporting the wheelchair users right to a space on the bus, telling the disabled person, rather then those who are abusive, to get off the bus. Those disabled people who sit in a designated seat who are not obviously disabled have experienced harassment and assaults even when they have explained their conditions.

Actions

  1. CCTV use on public transport is essential and this resource should be widely advertised to try and prevent assaults and harassment of anyone.
  2. This includes monitoring how drivers respond to disabled people.
  3. Clear guidance is required and needs to be enforced about the designated spaces for disabled people on public transport.
  4. Education of other users of public transport about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and penalty fines enforced for breaking such rules.
  5. More community police or wardens on public transport would also ease the concerns of disabled people but they must be trained so they are aware of what is disability hate crime.

 

 

Arson attacks

These attacks have been focused on disability equipment and venues such as day centres and sheltered housing. Mobility scooters have been targeted many times over recent years, some push the scooter in front of the victims’ doorway which has led to deaths of two disabled people this year as well as people having to be rescued by fire fighters and becoming very ill due to smoke inhalation.

Actions

  1. Fire prevention community awareness needs to include specific guidance to users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
  2. Many incidents were able to take place due to equipment left outside a person’s home; it must be the duty of landlords and social housing providers to ensure appropriate space and storage for disabled people’s equipment.
  3. Sheltered housing providers need to ensure safe places for mobility scooters.
  4. Insurance for such equipment needs to also be promoted.

 

People with visual impairments and guide dogs

Evidence from Guide Dogs for the Blind has shown that those who are blind, or have visual impairments, have experienced many instances of guide dogs being attacked, white canes and dark glasses stolen and damaged. In the last year it has been common for guide dogs to be attacked by fighting breeds of dogs deliberately incited to attack by the owners. Some guide dogs have been killed or so seriously traumatised they cannot work anymore.

Actions

  1. Recent research has detailed increasing attacks on guide dogs so specific responses need to be explored with guide dog users as to how they could be safer and owners of attacking dogs brought to justice.
  2. The targeting of personal disability related equipment can be a form of hate crime and must be recorded as such by police.

 

Verbal harassment

Verbal harassment can range from derogatory name-calling, deliberate and hostile staring at the disabled person. Mothers have experienced babies being called nasty names, groups of young people sneering and taunting the victim and adults deliberately aggressively hostile stating that the victim should never have been born and should be killed. I have experienced this and its impact is ongoing.

 

Victims are told off for being a burden on the state, work shy, fraudsters, ridiculed for needing care and/or support. They have also been threatened with being reported to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) fraud hotline by complete strangers and many disabled people have actually been reported maliciously.

 

Their movements have been watched by neighbours for any indication of them not being a true disabled person. Some write to newspapers stating a disabled person needs too much care to be in the community.

 

Such constant abuse can become extremely frightening and leads to disabled people restricting their movements, going out and about, even to moving away due to fear of the hostility they experience.

 

Actions

  1. The impact of such harassment is significant for all people who experience hate crime yet often what disabled people experience is defined as anti- social behaviour. This is leading to a lack of understanding about the serious impact on disabled peoples lives of such incidents. It also gives the message that what disabled people experience is not the same as other targeted individuals who are victims due to their identity. Being a disabled person is an identity, one we cannot change, and must be understood.
  2. All public services need to ensure that they are not encouraging or perpetuating harassment against disabled people. If a fraud reporting line is misused then penalties and legal action must be the consequence. If this is not followed then the message is given its ok to falsely accuse a disabled person of fraud which is not acceptable.
  3. Political leaders and those who are in positions of public responsibility also need to ensure they are complying with equality legislation and ensuring dignity and respect for all human beings. Labelling disabled people in a derogatory way leads to others copying such behaviour and using the words our leaders use against disabled people.
  4. A scheme called Safe Havens has been initiated for people with learning difficulties. This is about various venues such as local shops, pubs, and community centres being designated as a Safe Haven for a disabled person who has been threatened, harassed or experiencing any form of hostility. The workers are prepared to have the victim come inside, have time out, speak to police if required. This is a scheme that could be encouraged and available for all disabled people so when they plan a journey they will know where such Safe Places are.

 

Stones or other forms of missiles like stones and snowballs have been deliberately thrown at disabled people even whilst sitting in their cars. Football fans have targeted missiles at physically disabled people in the stands and made fun of the persons walking or other difficulties trying to get out of the stadium. Rocks have also been thrown through windows and at adapted vehicles.

Actions

  1. All those involved in crowd control need awareness training about disabled people being targeted and actions taken to prevent this as much as possible.
  2. As we prepare for the Olympics in 2012 this issue needs to be explored with disabled people’s organisations.

 

Online abuse

As the use of the internet has expanded so has the methods used to harass disabled people. I found evidence of people inciting others to attack and even kill disabled people. One site targeted Deaf people specifically, and other disabled people, the site owner bragged about attacks on Deaf people and how he would kill them if he could, people responding to the Face book site responded with encouragement although there was also outrage expressed another targeted people withDowns’s syndrome. Some have been deliberately set up to con disabled people out of thousands of pounds.

 

One MP’s website had photos of disabled people and named them as different members of other parties ministers, ridiculing those targeted as having certain types of impairments. The MP disclaimed all connection with the material yet allowed it to stay on the website for many weeks.

 

Even the governments own website on the ‘Spending Challenge’ allowed people to post ideas about sterilising those on benefits, using disabled people as bomb disposal workers, enslaving disabled people and putting us in a workhouse type environment.

 

The responses expressed to these ideas evidenced the high level of hostility towards disabled people in theUKwhich sadly the recent government’s plans and comments re welfare reform have encouraged. No appropriate moderation was engaged even though many people complained no action was taken for some time. Such lack of appropriate management of websites is inciting hatred towards disabled people.

Actions

  1. Legislation and controls of internet uses and abuses are in place but are very difficult to police. It would make sense for current and future Equality legislations to cover online discrimination and harassment.
  2. No individual should be able to incite hatred against disabled people via such methods, but we have no recognition of this in current legislation around incitement to commit hate crime as disabled people are not included. This must change urgently so we have equality of protection in law.
  3. Our government ministers must take responsibility for the language they use, and statements they make, about disabled people on websites, Face book, Twitter etc. This also means ensuring that government owned sites are responsibly moderated and maintained.
  4. The EHRC also has a responsibility to address complaints by disabled people to them about such abuse and its consequences.

 

Prevention work

No known work has been progressed to profile the attackers of disabled people. From media reports only a little information can be gathered about the attackers and some of this may be distorted or incorrect.

The majority of attacks in the media have occurred in public or the disabled person’s home or care environment. Past research has stated most attacks on disabled people are by known neighbours or friends of the victim. Whilst this is also evidenced in the media articles re murders, carer abuse, arson attacks, rape and sexual abuse it is not evidenced around all the murders or majority of assaults, robberies, harassment, and online attacks.

 

Many incidents have been by groups of young people, girls and boys of three or more. But the majority have been by one person who decides either randomly, or specifically, to target a disabled person. Such attacks have been unprovoked in nature which is evidence enough that these are cases of hate crime and should be dealt with as such by police.

Actions

  1. Professional perpetrator profiling is urgently required around the murders and violent attacks of disabled people. This could be facilitated by the police or CPS who have engaged professionals to undertake such work around domestic violence, for instance.
  2. A campaign to counteract the stereotypes and miss-beliefs about disabled people would challenge such perceptions. But this must originate from specialist disabled people/organisations with an understanding of the Social Model of Disability.
  3. Some past campaigns originating from non disabled people with the best of intentions have actually perpetuated and encouraged stereotyping and given more ways for people to abuse.
  4. Our children need to be taught to embrace difference from a very early age, integrating disabled children where possible into mainstream schools is very important as is the teaching they receive about different people’s identity.
  5. Training for all political leaders is urgently required so they understand the impact of their words when they target disabled people for service cuts and welfare reforms. Ignorance is no excuse for inciting hostility towards one sector of society.
  6.  Reforms that target specifically disabled people, or impact on them in any way, must ensure the voice of disabled people themselves is heard in the formation of such reforms and throughout there implementation to asses and address the impact on disabled people.

 

Conclusion

‘Nothing about us without us’ is an ethos which is still not fully understood, even though we have legislation to promote such inclusion, decisions are made every day, about us, without us.

 

Until it is recognised that it’s disabled people themselves that should be at the heart of all work on this issue social and attitudinal barriers will remain which prevent us accessing justice. And many will have no confidence in those services meant to help us.

 

It has taken decades of persistent campaigning by disabled people to get what we experience believed, now we have some belief, yet still we are excluded, marginalised, disempowered and treated unfairly due to our impairments.

 

Every day disabled people are attacked, vilified, treated as less valuable human beings, and killed. Yet still, even with the evidence we have produced, individually and through our own organisations, we do not see a proportionate response to the levels of hostility we face by our government or justice services.

 

So I ask for a response that is equal to what we experience, an immediate change and inclusion in hate crime law, full recording of crimes, detailed investigations and full access to equality of justice.

 

The UK has a long way to go and we wait to see all responding and complying with the UN Convention on the Human Rights of Disabled People with us, disabled people and our own organisations at the heart of such work.

 

 

If you wish to access any information I hold you can contact me via;

DPAC mail@dpac.uk.net or Disability Hate Crime Network face book site. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=304401563986

 

Copyright © 2010 Anne Novis.

 

Copyright © held in association with the Disability Hate Crime Network by Anne Novis

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

No part of this report may be produced in any form, by photocopying or by any electronic or mechanical means. Including information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from both copyright owner and publisher of this report.

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 Posted by at 16:31
May 142012
 

The Bigger Picture: Three years of targeted hostility towards disabled people in the UK

August 2007- July 2010

This is the second report produced by Anne Novis on disability hate crime which we have been given by her to distribute as widely as possible.

Introduction

 Whatever language is used, currently there is a poor response from both police and public services in adequately dealing with hate crimes that are targeted against disabled people. There has been a similar inadequate response in handling other disabled people’s reports of disability hate crimes and incidents. This motivates work in campaigning on this issue and working on reports like the ‘Snap Shot Report of targeted hostility towards disabled people in theUK’ and ‘Getting Away with Murder: disabled people’s experience of hate crime in theUK’. These reports try to raise awareness of what is happening in this area.

 

This report has been produced as evidence for the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into the extent of targeted hostility towards disabled people. It is the second of two reports. The first report focused on a period of three months in 2010, whilst this larger report details all evidence we have found over a period of three years, from August 2007 to July 2010.[1]

There has been an increased interest in disability hate crime and targeted hostility towards disabled people. We have therefore broadened the focus of this report to include recommended actions

that we think are appropriate and worth exploring by all parties involved in  these issues.

 

It is our hope that these reports will significantly add to and widen the debate on the range and types of hostility disabled people are experiencing.

 

We perceive disability hate crime, targeted hostility or any other terms used to describe degrading, inhuman or hostile treatment as violations of our human rights. This work is influenced by the Social Model of Disability, identifying the barriers that cause inequality, discrimination and violation of our human rights.

It is this approach we ask to be considered in all work on this issue of targeted hostility. An approach that recognises disabled people do not have equality in law to protect and give us equal justice. We believe that legal protection must be one of the first steps in addressing targeted hostility towards disabled people.

Equal Access to the Law

It is the basis of the Human Rights Act (2008) that disabled people have the same and equal access to law as all other people. The continuing exclusion of ‘disability’ from hate crime law gives a message that disabled people’s experience is ‘less than’ that of other people attacked due to their identity. The focus on anti-social behaviour is a distraction from what is truly occurring and the impact of such crimes.

We refute the belief that disabled people are targeted due to their innate ‘vulnerability’. This is a myth, a stereotype, which has no basis in evidenced fact. Any person is ‘vulnerable’ if someone wants to attack you, regardless of impairment.

 

Evidence

 

The evidence of actual events has been fully verified and substantiated through media and judicial reports. There is  also a massive body of anecdotal evidence over the past three decades, gathered directly from our members and their organisations.

 

Disability Awareness in Action has also collated evidence about violations of disabled peoples’ human rights across the world. Its database had this to say about theUKin 2006;

‘In theUKwe have information on 999 cases of violations affecting 366.458 disabled people.  59% are violations against women only and 18.5% are against children.

The real horror story is that 40.9% of these violations in theUKare of degrading and inhuman treatment (Article 5) and 9.8% (682 people) violate the right to life itself (Article 3).

A further 26.3% have their standard of living violated (Article 25), 11% have their freedom of movement violated (Article 13) – this includes transport violations. 9% have their right to employment violated. And 4.8% have their right to education violated (Article 26). There are also violations under most of the other articles.’

More details from this database can be viewed in Appendix 4 of this report.

Implementation of Justice

Article 16;5  of The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)  states;

‘Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women- and child-focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.’

The lack of training for police officers around disability hate crime and targeted hostility, and the range of crimes disabled people experience, is another injustice that perpetuates a belief that we are few and that such crimes are rare.

Article 13(2) UN CRPD also states:

2. In order to help to ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities, States Parties shall promote appropriate training for those working in the field of administration of justice, including police and prison staff.

Support

Government spending restrictions and cut backs are seeing  organisations run by disabled people (DPOS) losing funding – just at a time when disabled people have started to be believed about hate crime. We believe that the work required to address and support disability hate crime must be centred in our own DPOs. This can also be supported by our allies and partners who work with disabled people in support of rights, equality and justice.

When a disabled person reports crime they do not want to face one barrier after another, be it physical access, attitudes or policies that discriminate. They do not want to face having to explain the nature of their impairments and its impact on them or have to complain about lack of access. They want to report the crime, be believed, and have an appropriate response and investigation as well as justice that is equal for all.

Access

Therefore any services such as advice and advocacy, reporting sites in police stations, online or Third Party Reporting sites, must all comply with the Equality Act 2010, and be truly accessible for all disabled people.

Public service providers have a duty to eliminate harassment against disabled people yet the reality is they are, most often, the ones who cause the barriers we face, do not believe disabled people when they share their experiences, or refuse a service in one way or another.

On access to justice, Article 13(1) of the UN Convention on the Human Rights of disabled peoples states;

1. States Parties shall ensure effective access to justice for persons with disabilities on an equal basis with others, including through the provision of procedural and age-appropriate accommodations, in order to facilitate their effective role as direct and indirect participants, including as witnesses, in all legal proceedings, including at investigative and other preliminary stages.

We await the full implementation of disabled people’s human rights to freedom from harassment and hostility as well as access to equal justice.

We ask do we not have enough evidence for an appropriate response from those meant to serve, protect and ensure justice, how much longer do we have to wait?

 

 

Methodology

 

Figures

We have made every effort to make sure the figures used in this report are correct. We would like to highlight that the figures on gender and impairment are not the same as the incidents, due to some incidents involving equipment, rather than people. There are far more media articles on this issue in the last two years than has previously been the case. Please also note that all figures refer to the victims unless stated otherwise.

 

As all police forces are not monitoring disability hate crime and targeted hostility, this report relied on media sources for the collection of evidence. We need a consistent monitoring process in order to fully evidence and address the issue of disability hate crime.

 

Impairment

This report details the broad headings about impairments due to the limited research undertaken so far around disability related crime and targeted hostility against disabled people.

 

We would like to see a pan-impairment approach to all work on disability hate crime that recognises the philosophy of the Social Model of Disability. Such an approach would therefore include all disabled people. This would enable the development of focused and comprehensive strategies and work at national and local levels.

 

This approach would include all disabled people rather than limiting work to impairment-specific groups only. This is of crucial importance if we are to ensure that many are not left to struggle on their own with no support or recognition.

 

Incidents not detailed

In this report we do not include all information on thefts of disability equipment like wheelchairs, mobility scooters, crutches, white sticks, hearing aids, blue badges etc. Whilst a few are detailed for information purposes, the reality is that there are dozens of such thefts occurring every month and are carried out to generate a profit.  Whilst these thefts do cause great difficulty and distress to the disabled individual, they are not in the same category as disability hate crimes.

 

 

This report also does not detail the amount of so-called ‘muggings’ of disabled people where handbags, wallets and mobile phones etc. are stolen. These incidents are numerous, based on a profit motive and too great in number to be detailed here. However, repeated robberies, harassment and or physical attacks on the same individual have all been included in this report.

 

Freedom of Information requests

As part of the work for this report we sent off 26 FOI requests to various local authorities and police services asking what actions and plans they had to address the level of murders and attacks on disabled people in their region. The details of the questions we asked and the responses so far are gathered in Appendix …..

 

 

The murders detailed

A total of sixty nine murders are included in this report, all of which have taken place between August 2007 and July 2010. Information is provided in this report about; the year in which murders were committed and, where possible, details of appeals, ongoing investigations, and ongoing court cases. Please see Appendix 1 for a further detailed breakdown of these murders.

 

The term ‘murder’ is applied as a heading description and not that of all police or court charges. These charges used classifications such as manslaughter, mercy killings and culpable manslaughter. In some cases, individuals that were not charged with murder have been perceived as committing murder in this report.

 

70 murders were committed between August 2007 and July 2010.

 

61 men, 14 women, 8 boys, 2 girls and 10 unknown people were involved in committing these attacks and murders.

 

The details of each of these cases is not described fully in this report, as many are part of ongoing investigations and we do not wish to compromise judicial processes.

 

Nevertheless, the murder cases listed provide a detailed picture of deliberate targeted hostility, whether by relatives who believe they cannot cope any more, or think that their relative wants to die, to opportunistic killings or planned murders and executions.

 

Several cases listed are of such a nature that no explanation could suffice as to why people would persist in torturing and killing a disabled person, except that perpetrators believe the lives of disabled people are of less value than other human beings.

 

There is also a belief that killing a disabled person will be more ‘acceptable’ then killing a non-disabled person. This is evidenced by societies’ views on assisted suicide, attitudes around so-called ‘mercy killings’, the lower sentences sometimes given to those who kill disabled people, the lack of use of laws around sentencing which can be increased if the victim is being targeted due to disability or ‘vulnerability’.

 

The purpose of listing the victims of disability hate crimes and targeted hostility in this report is so that appropriate action may finally be taken and so that those victims are remembered.

 

 

More details about the 70 murder cases in media

 

January – July 2010   

A total of 23 murders have taken place in this seven month period; seventeen cases are still ongoing, two murderers committed suicide and one has been sentenced. Additionally, there is also:

  • 1 murderer in court due to escaping jail (1995 case).
  • 1 case in court for murder in 1997 due to new evidence.
  • 1 case in court for murder in 2006.

 

January – December 2009

A total of fifteen murders took place in 2009, five trials complete, and ten were sentenced in 2010.                                  

 

January – December 2008

There were fourteen murders over this 2008, with four trials complete, four sentenced the following year, one appeal and three in court in 2010.                             

 

January – December 2007

Seventeen murders took place in 2007, with four trials complete, five were sentenced in 2008, one appeal and two trials taking place in 2010. Additionally, there were also:

  • Two murderers sentenced 2010 (2006 cases).

 

 

 

 

 

The 71 murder victims:

(In alphabetical order)

 

  1. A, A., aged 77, PD, murdered March 2010 by arson attack, boy charged March 2010 (Warwickshire).
  2. A, K., aged 77, PD, murdered March 2010 by arson attack, boy charged March 2010 (Warwickshire).
  3. A., S., aged 23, PD, stabbed to death 2006, court case May 2010 (West Midlands).
  4. A., G., aged 59, vulnerable,tortured and beaten to death June 2010 (County Durham) woman jailed for 32 years, appeal refused.
  5. A, D., aged 64, MI, harassed to death March 2010, manslaughter charge dropped against two teenagers July 2010, one man still facing harassment charge (Greater Manchester).
  6. A, A., aged 62, PD, wheelchair user beaten to death April 2010, man charged, in court August 2010 (West Yorkshire).
  7. B, G., aged 61, PD, murdered by carer and two men June 2007, all sentenced July 2008, 18 and 20 years (Staffordshire).
  8. B, I., aged 87, PD, beaten and stabbed to death May 2010 by someone she knew (London).
    1. B, G., aged 46, LD, found murdered with severe head wounds February 2010. Man charged March 2010, in court October 2010 (Bedfordshire).

10. B, S., aged 52 , PD, strangled to death 2007, execution arranged by her ex-husband, sentenced to 22 years in June 2009  (Berkshire).

11. B, M., aged 48, PD, kicked to death by two men May 2008, sentenced to life October 2008, (Ayrshire).

12. B., P., aged 62, PD, wheelchair user killed December 2009, woman charged with assault December 2009 (Midlothian).

13. C, A., aged 71, MH, husband killed wife 2009, trail 2010 (Hampshire).

14. C, D., aged 18, MI, punched to death by gang of strangers 2009 (South Yorkshire).

15. D, H., aged 81, PD, killed July 2010 in care home (Northumbria).

16. E, L., aged 18, PD, beaten and stabbed to death 2008, two men sentenced 18 and 20 years Jan 2010 (Lancashire).

17. F, K., aged 41, MI, stabbed to death by neighbour November 2009, man sentenced to life imprisonment May 2010 (Greater Manchester).

18. F, H., aged 100, sensory and PD, stabbed to death February 2010, trial August 2010 (London).

19. F, G., aged 11, PD, murdered by mother May 2010 (Cardiff).

20. F, M., aged 59, murdered due to arson attack November 2009, three charged in court May 2010 (Cornwall).

21. G, A., aged 77, MI, beaten to death by granddaughter May 2007, sentenced to life July 2008 (West Yorkshire).

22. G, A., aged 35, vulnerable, tortured to death March 2010, three sentenced to life imprisonment January 2010, appeal refused May 2010 (County Durham).

23. G, M., aged 26, LD, enslaved by a family who tortured and dismembered him May 2009; five convicted April 2010 (Bedfordshire).

24. G, L., aged 31, PD, killed by mother with heroin overdose December 2008, mother cleared of attempted murder Jan 2010 (East Sussex).

25. G, P., aged 61,PD,  suffocated to death 2007 by carer, three people subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to 17,18 and 19 years 2008 (Staffordshire).

26. G, A., aged 60, disabled, stabbed to death March 2008 man sentenced 19 years January 2009 (Norfolk).

27. G, L., aged 38, multiple impairments, murdered by father 2010 who committed suicide by driving car off cliff with son inside (Sharpness, Gloucestershire).

28. H, S., age unknown, PD, raped then stabbed to death 2006, man sentenced to life in 2007 (Hampshire).

29. H, F., aged 18, LD, killed by mother when she committed suicide in burning car October 2007 (Leicestershire).

30. H, H., aged 63, PD, woman stabbed to death July 2010 (near Aberdeenshire).

31. H, R., aged 65, PD, beaten to death in 2008 by neighbour and friend, man sentenced to life November 2008 (West Sussex).

32. H, N., aged 4, PD, drowned by mother November 2007 sentenced to 15 years September 2008 (West Cheshire).

33. H, P., aged 56, PD, murdered April 2010, (North Wales).

34. H, J., aged 22, MI, murdered/found dead 2008, mother committed suicide, no-one charged (Shropshire).

35. I, T., aged 22, MI, murdered by his mother November 2008, sentenced to life imprisonment January 2010 appealing (London).

36. J, C., aged 47, PD, murdered by husband and friend 2009 (West Lothian).

37. J, B., aged 48, PD, murdered March 2009, stabbed to death, neighbour sentenced 16 years, June 2010, (Dundee).

38. K, B., aged 85, PD, murdered by throat being slashed, May 2010 (Dorset).

39. L, C., aged 50, MI, harassed and humiliated as she died by three men who did not assist her, July 2007. One man convicted of outraging public decency sentenced to 3 years October 2007 (Middlesbrough).

40. L, Y. H., aged 18, MI, killed by being scorched to death in care home August 2007. Care home fined £145,000 (Oxfordshire).

41. L, P., aged 65, PD, murdered by husband September 2006, sentenced 2007 for 3 years, classed as ‘mercy killing’ (Merseyside).

42. M, D., aged 84, PD, abducted and scared to death May 2008, man sentenced 15 years March 2009 (Perthshire)

43. M, R., aged 58, MH, beaten to death by stranger July 2009; teenager sentenced 4 years May 2010 (Lanarkshire).

44. M, B., aged 23, LD, beaten to death by three men 2007, men sentenced to life (Tyne and Wear).

45. M, A., aged 39, vulnerable, murdered by paedophiles that feared she would report them to police in 1997; killers sentenced 30 and 26 years June 2010 (Ayrshire).

46. M, L., aged 19, LD, beaten and stabbed to death by friends in 2007, sentenced 2008 (Aberdeenshire).

47. M, J., aged 66, unknown impairment, battered to death with spade April 2007, man sentenced life November 2007 (Greater Manchester).

48. M, M., aged 21, PD, stabbed to death August 2008, trail 2010 (West Midlands).

49. N, J., aged 62, PD, stabbed to death by stranger February 2009, man sentenced 22 years March 2010 (Essex).

50. N, G., aged 74 , PD, murdered in 1995, murderer sentenced to life imprisonment in 1996, escaped open jail and re-caught in April 2010 (West Yorkshire).

51. O, O., aged 16 , PD, mauled by dogs before being stabbed to death April 2009 , man sentenced to life imprisonment March 2010 (London).

52. O, H., age unknown, PD, battered to death by neighbour 2007, man sentenced to life 2008 (Nottinghamshire).

53. P, A., aged 67, MI, stabbed to death by carer/friend January 2009, woman sentenced to eleven years Sept. 2009 (Lanarkshire).

54. R, S., aged 21, LD, murdered June 2010, seven young people, including two men, charged case ongoing (Lincolnshire).

55. S, T., aged 36, PD, beaten to death by gang December 2007, four sentenced February 2009, appeal June 2010 (Kent).

56. S, B., aged 73, PD, wheelchair user, beaten to death by burglar July 2007, case dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service October 2008 (Northamptonshire).

57. S, F., aged 59, PD, beaten to death July 2010, investigation ongoing (Tyne and Wear).

58. S, N., aged 54, PD, stabbed and burned to death April 2007; two men sentenced sixteen years (Kent).

59. S, M., aged 17, PD, stabbed to death November 2008 by boyfriend sentenced to eleven years in April 2009 (Ayrshire).

60. S, G., aged 70, PD and wheelchair user, murdered by husband April 2010, husband committed suicide (West Sussex)

61. T, M., aged 25, LD, stabbed to death by father 2008, sentenced to seventeen years, appeal for increase refused 2010 (Fife).

62. T, P., aged 85, PD, strangled to death in September 2009, killer sentenced thirty four years May 2010 (Teesside).

63. W, A., aged 29, PD, strangled to death October 2009, man sentenced twenty two years June 2010 (East Sussex).

64. W, K., aged 21, PD, murdered February 2009 by friend, man sentenced to life imprisonment October 2009 (Cheshire).

65. W, M., aged 31, LD, suffocated to death 2008 by two robbers sentenced to life 2009 (Fife).

66. Unknown disabled man with AIDs (PD) smothered to death by man 2010. Investigation ongoing (Area unknown).

67. Unknown disabled woman, MH, aged 58, murdered in mental health hospital August 2007 (Greater Manchester).

68. & 69. Unknown names and gender, two terminally ill people, GP admitted to killing them in 2010, these claims are being investigated by the police and Crown Prosecution Service (Wales).

70. Unknown disabled man, aged 74, PD and Deaf, attacked and robbed then died in Bristol, Somerset July 2010

71. T.W. aged 77. PD suspected mercy killing May 2010. Husband committed suicide August 2010.

 

Action needed

  1. Recognise that intervention is required urgently to ensure no one feels they have no choice but to kill a disabled person just because they cannot cope with caring for them.
  2. There is an urgent need for risk assessments to be undertaken on the impending cuts to Social Care funding and the wider consequences this will have.
  3. We challenge the justice system not to allow ’mercy killings’ as a justification for murder.
  4. We require that the recording and monitoring of all crimes against disabled people be initiated promptly in recognition of the escalating attacks and murders against us.
  5. We require that cases that clearly demonstrate an attack, or murder, that is aggravated by the victim being a disabled person is recognised and used in all judicial process.
  6. We ask that legislation around Hate Crime is made equal for all, giving disabled people the same protection in law as others who experience attacks due to identity.
  7. This means including ‘disability’ in Incitement legislation as well as recognising Disability Hate Crime as a crime in and of itself rather then just an aggravating factor.
  8. The police need to set targets around disability hate crime. Most other forms of hate crime have performance targets, and are aimed at the number of perpetrators who are arrested and brought to justice (charged or cautioned), which are called ‘Sanction Detection Rates’. Whilst it is generally accepted that this is not always the best indicator of performance, we ask that a performance measure is urgently introduced so the profile of disability hate crime is increased, and the police can start focusing on improving low reporting rates and improve the quality of investigations and outcomes.

 

Range of attacks

The majority of physical and verbal assaults found in media articles are random attacks on streets, some are by groups of people or individuals, random in nature by unknown people. Listed below are certain types of attacks identified in the wide range of media reports researched. Actions are listed that could improve the experience of disabled people.

 

Torture

Some disabled people have been targeted by families, or groups of people, who subject the person to torture over a prolonged period of time. Humiliation, sexual abuse, starvation, repeated beatings, burns, shaving off all hair, abuse with household objects and parts of their body cut off or stabbed Another aspect is the filming  of the humiliation and abuse, then these videos are shared for ‘fun’ and mockery of the disabled person. Several of the cases found have been perpetuated by young people under 18 who therefore receive very low sentences of two to four years for such serious crimes.

 

Action needed

  1. Enforcement of Article 15(2) of the UN Convention on the rights of disabled people (UNCRPD), which states explicitly that:

‘States Parties shall take all effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others, from being subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’

  1. Punishment of such crimes with the full recourse of the law for those of 15 years or above, as they have full understanding of what they are doing.
  2. Review of such cases by the justice system, and advisement on changes needed to the law so that justice can be implemented accordingly.
  3. Recognition that such persistent attacks are aggravated due to disability and as such all sentences should be enhanced.

 

Rape and sexual abuse

Rape and sexual abuse can affect any disabled person. Many cases seem to be by carers/professionals working in the victim’s home or care environment but such assaults have also randomly occurred on the streets. Some disabled people have been targeted in accessible toilets, on public transport or in vehicles that transport disabled people to day centres or residential care.

 

Some victims have been raped by several people as well as being violently attacked in other ways. Disabled men and women with a range of impairments have experienced rape and sexual assaults.

When disabled people have reported rape they have experienced social barriers such as lack of accessible examination/support centres, communication difficulties. Further still, often a victim of such abuse is not believed or respected as a credible witness thereby denying the victim redress in law.

 

Action needed

  1. Rape reporting/examination centres need to ensure accessibility as well as training for staff on Disability Equality.
  2. Non-compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Duties is an issue that must be addressed so all victims of rape can access all services and support available.

 

Domestic Violence

This is a common experience for disabled people. Twelve of the murders detailed in this report were perpetrated by relatives of the victim. Attempted murders are also detailed by one man against his wife. He stated he believed his wife wanted to die even though she repeatedly stated she did not. This man has now been sentenced. Disabled men also get attacked by partners, or by a relative, yet this is an issue many ignore. Refuges and support has mainly been set up for women.

 

Furthermore, adult sons and daughters attack disabled parents sometimes due to the frustrations of caring responsibilities, other times due to wanting money or an inheritance.

 

It has not been possible to find many reports of domestic violence against disabled people in the media, except the murders, due to the nature of this crime and also because half as many women are sharing their experiences with the media. Due to the stigma around domestic violence men also find it difficult to reveal they have been a victim of such abuse.

 

In one case a physically disabled man was stabbed by his wife, who is also his carer, she was let off a custodial sentence and given a work order of 150 hours. Disability Awareness in Action has more evidence of such domestic violence against men then we have found in the media which could inform work on this issue.

 

However, some good research has been processed around disabled people and domestic violence so we are not detailing that which has been evidenced previously on this issue except to say we think there is significant under reporting and lack of accessible services for disabled people, men and women, who are victims of domestic violence. This includes the Womens Aid report –

 

http://www.womensaid.org.uk/domestic-violence-articles.asp?section=00010001002200080001&itemid=1351

 

Action needed

  1. Refuges for victims of domestic violence need to ensure accessibility for a wide range of disabled people.
  2. Refuges and support for victims of domestic violence also need to address the issues of disabled men being victims and ensure their services are appropriate for them.
  3. Research into the prevalence of domestic violence against disabled men is also recommended.
  4. Appropriate levels of support are required for carers of disabled people and urgent attention given to those carers who state they are not coping.
  5. No person should be placed in a situation where they feel their only option is to kill a disabled child, of any age, or relative due to lack of social support.
  6. Implementation of Article 16(3)of the UNCRPD that states: ‘In order to prevent the occurrence of all forms of exploitation, violence and abuse, States Parties shall ensure that all facilities and programmes designed to serve persons with disabilities are effectively monitored by independent authorities.’ And that;

Article 16(5): ‘Parties shall put in place effective legislation and policies, including women – and child – focused legislation and policies, to ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and abuse against persons with disabilities are identified, investigated and, where appropriate, prosecuted.’

 

 

Carer Abuse

Carer abuse takes many forms: verbal harassment, theft, rape and sexual abuse, physical violence and murder. Many disabled people have paid carers in their homes in a position of trust, this gives opportunities for theft or other forms of abuse. Nurses and care workers have also abused their position of trust verbally abusing, mocking, harassing and physically assaulting disabled people in their care.

 

Disabled people have been burnt with cigarettes or boiling bath water, pictures taken of them naked and distributed around the home, roughly manhandled, slapped and beaten.

 

In July 2010 an inquiry has revealed 44 claims of abuse, in a care home for people with learning difficulties. The police are now investigating these claims which include withholding of food and drink, being locked in cupboards and taken to well known sexual abuse ‘hot spots’ (according to media statements) as well as clients being left on their bus whilst carers went shopping for themselves.

 

999 Controllers recorded one incident of ambulance men deciding a physically disabled man’s life was not worth saving due to  disability and mess in his home.

 

Couples with learning difficulties live in anxiety and fear of their children being taken from them due to an archaic policy that assesses the ability of the disabled person to be ‘good enough’ parent’s rather then supporting disabled parents in their responsibilities – as is done around individual disabled people with other impairments. Such actions are a violation of human rights and a form of targeted hostility from public services that needs to be addressed urgently.

 

There are not many recorded reports of these abuses, possibly due to the nature of the disabled people themselves not able to speak out without assistance or worried that reporting such abuse may makes things worse for them. This atmosphere of fear, lack of transparency and often the policies themselves which were meant to provide protection, can restrict reporting.

 

Action needed

  1. There is much work progressed on safeguarding disabled people from some of these abuses but failures are common so more in depth work is required ensuring disabled people themselves are involved and advising on such policies.
  2. Training is required for disabled people who employ their own Personal Assistants around assessing and addressing safeguarding issues.
  3. Policies that violate disabled persons human rights must be urgently reviewed and changed.
  4. An independent process for disabled people in care, or using care resources like day centres, needs to be developed where they can communicate concerns or report abuse. This needs to be accessible and provide effective independent support to raise a complaint and see it through to the end.
  5. Fear of reprisal is an issue for victims when reporting an incident, although this should be addressed in any safeguarding action plan, many potential victims have no awareness of this policy. A positive campaign encouraging reporting in care settings to independent advocates, which would also share information on protection, for possible victims is recommended.

 

Disabled children

Disabled children are experiencing abuse, bullying, harassment and physical attacks in and outside schools. Many do not get into the news but some are detailed in this report.

 

From the evidence collected, disabled young people have been murdered, threatened, robbed, sexually abused in school and other care environments, raped, burnt, beaten up by gangs of older teenagers and adults, tortured and filmed for ‘fun’.

One boy who is a wheelchair user was slapped by burglars in his home, one boy alleges repeated sexual abuse by a social worker, one boy who uses crutches was attacked by a gang as he waited for a bus, one young girl stamped on and beaten, one disabled baby was verbally insulted in a shop by an assistant and one boy’s home was targeted for an arson attack.

 

Equipment which assist the disabled child has been targeted vandalised or stolen; such as a school sensory garden trashed three times, specialist sailing equipment damaged leading to closure of the sailing initiative for disabled children. In one area three adapted buses for disabled children were vandalised resulting in the children missing out on school lessons.

 

We view ‘bullying’ incited by the victims impairment as a form of targeted hostility and hate crime that needs to be addressed.

Schools and teaching staff are often slow to take disablist bullying seriously.

 

Often, disabled children experience repeated attacks by the same groups of people.

 

The Alliance for Inclusive Education (ALLFIE) has evidence of one instance of a disabled child being repeatedly bullied yet when the parent asked for help the head teacher suggested the child should ‘just get used to being teased’. UKDPC have evidence of a case where one deaf ,girl became a focus for repeated bullying, physical assault and threats to kill. The school refused to acknowledge there was a problem even when the disabled girl wanted to kill herself. The school stated it was ‘just kids being kids’.

 

Another case involves a young boy with multiple impairments who was excluded from school photographs. The head teacher suggested the boy have a  section of the playground to separate him from other children. One play assistant described  him as ‘a horrible boy’ in front of a playground of children. The parents felt he was just regarded as a ‘naughty child’, marginalised, harassed and excluded by their attitudes. The school eventually decided they could not meet the boy’s needs within the government’s policy of inclusion of disabled children in mainstream school.

 

We would not advocate punishing the young person doing the bullying but do expect the school to implement a robust anti bullying policy.  The policy should recognise all similar attacks as situations that need to be dealt with by working with their community of staff and students and challenging the prejudice behind such attacks.

 

Bullying and hostility towards disabled children and young people also can occur in Special Schools which are often seen as ‘safe havens’. This assumption that such schools do not have such issues must be challenged and the reality addressed.

 

In the past, Anne Novis a leading activist on disability hate crime, has provided counselling to disabled children in aSpecialSchool. They have shared fears and anxieties when they are ‘picked on’ by other children and sometimes those in authority. The lack of belief about what disabled people experience is a common factor for all ages of disabled people.

 

Many young disabled people are also being targeted on public streets by gangs and individuals who think it is ‘fun’ to harass, demean, and physically hurt them. Verbal harassment often takes place first, then obstruction of the persons movements, then physical assault.

 

There is also evidence of increasing attacks on disabled children in some church environments. The children are deemed as ‘possessed by evil spirits’ or ‘witches’ and therefore to be punished and exorcised. One child was found with the burn mark of an iron on her back, others punched and beaten for behavioural difficulties.

 

Action needed

  1. Training is required in schools that facilitate discussion, and awareness, about disability equality for staff and children. This could be facilitated by disabled young people themselves and via active participative methods with support from disabled adults.
  2. There should be a mechanism to monitor effectiveness of Education providers anti bullying policy – through OFSTED or other bodies.
  3. We would like to see a DVD and Toolkit developed for use in schools, by disabled people, to initiate and raise awareness of disability targeted hostility.
  4. Abuse of disabled children is not acceptable in any environment or institution yet the reality is their voice is barely heard. Whilst there are child specific help lines for abuse, the nature of a child’s impairment can add a barrier that is often not overcome by the service provider. Such service providers should have as a requirement of funding their accessibility assessed. This is a legal duty under the DDA.
  5. All religious establishments and places of worship in theUK, regardless of cultural differences, must abide by the laws of this land and the human rights of the individual child. Information and awareness-raising in such institutions is urgently required to address this growing concern. We also need to see appropriate legal measure taken against those who perpetuate such abuse of disabled children.
  6. We recommend accessible reporting sites are set up in schools, youth centres and other places where young people go or gather. These need to ensure they are available to the child, or young disabled person, in a safe environment which encourages them to share their experiences as well as being supported.
  7. Some Peer Support schemes have been set up in schools which could be widened in remit for disabled children and young people
  8. The Safe Haven scheme for people with learning difficulties could also be assessed for its suitability for disabled children and young people.
  9. A Disability History Month for schools would enable a focus to be placed on celebrating disabled peoples lives and would begin to breakdown the unhelpful stereotyping that drives bullying and harassment of disabled children and young people.

 

Home incidents

Some assaults and robberies have occurred in the disabled persons home, the level of physical attack being extreme when considering the lack of physical ability of some disabled persons to defend themselves.

 

A few burglars have seriously attacked a disabled victim whilst in their beds, unable to move without assistance.

 

Some incidents involve neighbour disputes becoming more and more hostile at times leading to murder.

 

Action Needed

  1. Targeted hostility by neighbours is a feature of many attacks and murders. Landlords and social housing providers need to ensure they are addressing this issue as is their duty under the DDA re eliminating harassment against disabled people.
  2. Advocacy services specific to this issue are required and recommended in local disabled peoples organisations (DPOs) wherever possible.
  3. Understanding from all involved that low level irritations, or targeted hostility, can lead to violent crimes against disabled people in their homes or neighbourhood is essential. Training could be provided by a local DPO or Disability Consultant to Multi Agency Safeguarding Panels and Hate Crime Boards at local levels.
  4. Housing Mediation Centres would be well placed to try and resolve such low level irritations but they must be staffed by well trained people who understand the Social Model of Disability. As these are voluntary organisations the local authorities who support them could ensure this as a condition of funding.
  5. Safer Neighbourhood Policing teams need to ensure they are in contact with disabled people in their areas and addressing security and safety issues as well as what may be called anti-social behaviour.
  6. Schemes that ensure disabled people are accessing as much security as possible for their homes is recommended.

 

Assault and robbery

This report only lists such cases that include a significant violent aspect. In many cases the theft seems to be a minor outcome of a targeted physical attack rather then the reason a disabled person is targeted. Often items stolen are found damaged or thrown away.

 

Where there has been actual theft of money or valuables the levels of the assaults are often far more extreme then required to steal such goods. Crutches, hearing aids, dark glasses, and other aids are being stolen and damaged.

 

Action needed

  1. Police need to ensure they are recognising the nature of such assaults and robberies and recording them as hate incidents if the crime has obviously taken place due to a person being disabled or if the victim perceives, or feels, they were attacked for this reason.
  2. Many such crimes are not being recorded or investigated appropriately and doing an injustice to the experience of the victim.
  3. Currently legislation will only recognise disability as an aggravating factor for a crime such as assault and robbery yet is often not used. Until we get better legislation we are looking to see a much wider user of the protection we have in law. Therefore all police officers need training to recognise when a crime has been aggravated by the person’s impairment.
  4. Using the excuse that a person is ‘vulnerable’ and that is why they are attacked is not acceptable anymore. We all are vulnerable when someone wants to attack or target us for crime. Better recording and recognition of such crimes is essential

 

 

Befriending/Grooming of disabled people

Evidence shows that befriending, personal assistance and formal caring often uncover targeted hostility. This has led to murders, vicious physical attacks, torture and persistent harassment and theft of the victim’s money. The nature of such ‘grooming’ and ‘befriending’ can take the form of a person forming a caring/friendship role, deliberately spending time with the disabled person socially, offering to assist with household chores, shopping etc. This then places them in the position of accessing bank accounts or welfare benefits. Others control the disabled person in such ways that they become dependent on the ‘friend’ leading to abuse, torture and at times murder.

 

 

Action needed

  1. It is not possible to safeguard all disabled people to the degree required to prevent such abuse but educating and raising awareness about this type of crime would assist. It has been mainly disabled people with care and support needs who have been victims of such crimes so extra input for these disabled people by social services, specific user led organisations and disabled peoples organisations setting up awareness raising projects would be of value.
  2. We recommend that advocacy projects, run by and for disabled people, are essential.   Anyone experiencing this, or other sorts of abuse, can then speak about their experiences in accessible ways.
  3. Peer support is another method which could give a safe place for disabled people to share concerns.
  4. Police visiting and becoming familiar with places disabled people go and increasing their presence and building relationships could encourage reporting.

 

Repeat victimisation

This is an experience of many disabled people and is leading to some trying to protect themselves either with disability equipment, such as walking sticks, or as in one case a repeat victim buying a fake gun to try and prevent the repeated attacks he experienced. It has been a saddening experience to read that such victims have actually been charged with a crime by police who then ignore the perpetrators of the repeat attacks.

 

Action needed

  1. The lack of understanding by police officers around disability hate crime is not acceptable. Whilst recognising they have not had  training on this specific issue, they have received equality and hate crime training. All this knowledge should be easily transferable regarding disability targeted hostility or hate crime. Yet the reality is there is a significant lack of understanding and also lack of recording or monitoring.
  2. National recording of disability hate crime is meant to start in April 2011. This report recommends that systems ensure repeat victims can be easily identified.

 

Over 80 wheelchair and mobility scooter users were physically assaulted, verbally abused, harassed and/or victims of assault and robbery. All of these happened on local high streets or near the wheelchair user’s home. It is common for wheelchair users to be tipped out of their chairs as part of the physical attacks. This has led to some victims being left stranded on a pathway unable to call or access assistance for some time adding to the distress of the victim. It is also a practice that leads to significant harm to the wheelchair user.

 

These attacks can happen even when the wheelchair user is with someone else so this is not just about the thinking these people are easy targets or ‘vulnerable’.

 

Action needed

  1. Providers of such equipment need to be ensuring they raise awareness of the user around this type of hostility and making available added safety equipment such as audio alarms or direct link to police via a specific radio or mobile phone attachment. New technology offers many imaginative options which could be explored to enhance the safety of wheelchair and mobility scooter users.
  2. Local police need to raise awareness of wheelchair and mobility scooters users about what they can do to be safer or how to respond to such attacks.
  3. Some schemes have provided self defence classes for users of this equipment this could be explored in more depth by local DPOs.
  4. Equally we need to see the police taking firm action against such criminals, using the full recourse of the law, and recognising the ‘hate’ element.

 

People with visual impairments and guide dogs

Evidence from Guide Dogs for the Blind has shown that those who are blind, or have visual impairments, have experienced many instances of guide dogs being attacked, white canes and dark glasses stolen and damaged. In the last year it has been common for guide dogs to be attacked by fighting breeds of dogs deliberately incited to attack by the owners. Some guide dogs have been killed or so seriously traumatised they cannot work anymore.

 

 

Action needed

  1. Public service providers must ensure they comply with equality duties and not target a disabled person because of the nature of their impairment.
  2. Recent research has detailed increasing attacks on guide dogs so specific responses need to be explored with guide dog users as to how they could be safer and owners of attacking dogs brought to justice.
  3. The targeting of specific disability related equipment is a form of hate crime and must be recorded as such by police.

 

Stones or other forms of missiles like stones and snowballs have been deliberately thrown at disabled people even whilst sitting in their cars. Football fans have targeted missiles at physically disabled people in the stands and made fun of the persons walking or other difficulties trying to get out of the stadium. Rocks have also been thrown through windows and at adapted vehicles.

 

Action needed

  1. All those involved in crowd control need awareness training about disabled people being targeted and actions taken to prevent this as much as possible.
  2. As we prepare for the Olympics in 2012 this issue needs to be explored with disabled people’s organisations.

 

Public Transport

Many disabled people have also been harassed and attacked on public transport. Sometimes this is due to disputes about the designated wheelchair space on buses with parents with baby buggies. Often this has led to the disabled person not getting on the bus due to the targeted abuse they experience. Some disabled people with learning difficulties can become a target that is followed onto public transport to ridicule, harass and/or attack.

 

The drivers of buses also sometimes perpetuate harassment by not reporting incidents, not supporting the wheelchair users right to a space on the bus, telling the disabled person, rather then those who are abusive, to get off the bus. Those disabled people who sit in a designated seat who are not obviously disabled have experienced harassment and assaults even when they have explained their conditions.

 

Action needed

  1. CCTV use on public transport is essential and this resource should be widely advertised to try and prevent assaults and harassment of anyone.
  2. This includes monitoring how drivers respond to disabled people.
  3. Clear guidance is required and needs to be enforced about the designated spaces for disabled people on public transport.
  4. Education of other users of public transport about what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour and penalty fines enforced for breaking such rules.
  5. More community police or wardens on public transport would also ease the concerns of disabled people but they must be trained so they are aware of what is disability hate crime.

 

Arson attacks

These attacks on disability equipment and venues such as day centres and sheltered housing are common. Mobility scooters have been targeted many times over recent years, some push the scooter in front of the victims’ doorway which has led to deaths of two disabled people this year as well as people having to be rescued by fire fighters and becoming very ill due to smoke inhalation.

 

Action needed

  1. Fire prevention community awareness needs to include specific guidance to users of wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
  2. Many incidents were able to take place due to equipment left outside a person’s home, it must be the duty of landlords and social housing providers to ensure appropriate space and storage for disabled peoples equipment.
  3. Sheltered housing providers need to ensure safe places for mobility scooters.
  4. Insurance for such equipment needs to also be promoted.

 

Verbal harassment

Verbal harassment can range from derogatory name-calling, deliberate and hostile staring at the disabled person. Mothers have experienced babies being called nasty names, groups of young people sneering and taunting the victim and adults deliberately aggressively hostile stating that the victim should never have been born and should be killed.

 

Victims are told off for being a burden on the state, work shy, fraudsters, ridiculed for needing care and/or support. They have also been threatened with being reported to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) fraud hotline by complete strangers and many disabled people have actually been reported maliciously.

 

Their movements have been watched by neighbours for any indication of them not being a true disabled person. Some write to newspapers stating a disabled person needs too much care to be in the community.

 

Such constant abuse can become extremely frightening and leads to disabled people restricting their movements, going out and about, even to moving away due to fear of the hostility they experience.

 

Action needed

  1. The impact of such harassment is significant for all people who experience hate crime yet often what disabled people experience is defined as anti- social behaviour. This is leading to a lack of understanding about the serious impact on disabled peoples lives of such incidents. It also gives the message that what disabled people experience is not the same as other targeted individuals who are victims due to their identity. Being a disabled person is an identity, one we cannot change, and must be understood.
  2. All public services need to ensure that they are not encouraging or perpetuating harassment against disabled people. If a fraud reporting line is misused then penalties and legal action must be the consequence. If this is not followed then the message is given its ok to falsely accuse a disabled person of fraud which is not acceptable.
  3. Political leaders and those who are in positions of public responsibility also need to ensure they are complying with equality legislation and ensuring dignity and respect for all human beings. Labelling disabled people in a derogatory way leads to others copying such behaviour and using the words our leaders use against disabled people.
  4. A scheme called Safe Havens has been initiated for people with learning difficulties. This is about various venues such as local shops, pubs, and community centres being designated as a Safe Haven for a disabled person who has been threatened, harassed or experiencing any form of hostility. The workers are prepared to have the victim come inside, have time out, speak to police if required. This is a scheme that could be encouraged and available for all disabled people so when they plan a journey they will know where such Safe Places are.

 

Online abuse

As the use of the internet has expanded so has the methods used to harass disabled people. We have evidence of people inciting others to attack and even kill disabled people. One site targeted Deaf people specifically, and other disabled people, the site owner bragged about attacks on Deaf people and how he would kill them if he could, people responding to the Facebook site responded with encouragement although there was also outrage expressed, another targeted people withDownssyndrome. Some have been deliberately set up to con disabled people out of thousands of pounds.

 

One MP’s website had photos of disabled people and named them as different members of other parties ministers, ridiculing those targeted as having certain types of impairments. The MP disclaimed all connection with the material yet allowed it to stay on the website for many weeks.

 

Even the governments own website on the ‘Spending Challenge’ allowed people to post ideas about sterilising and enslaving disabled people and putting us in a workhouse type environment. The responses expressed to these ideas evidenced the high level of hostility towards disabled people in theUKwhich sadly the recent government’s plans and comments re welfare reform has encouraged. No appropriate moderation was engaged even though many people complained no action was taken for some time. We perceive such lack of appropriate management of websites as inciting hatred towards disabled people.

 

Action needed

  1. Legislation and controls of internet uses and abuses are in place but are very difficult to police. It would make sense for current and future Equality legislations to cover online discrimination and harassment.
  2. No individual should be able to incite hatred against disabled people via such methods, but we have no recognition of this in current legislation around incitement to commit hate crime as disabled people are not included. This must change urgently so we have equality of protection in law.
  3. Our government ministers must take responsibility for the language they use, and statements they make, about disabled people on websites, Facebook, Twitter etc. This also means ensuring that government owned sites are responsibly moderated and maintained.
  4. The EHRC also has a responsibility to address complaints by disabled people to them about such abuse and its consequences.

 

Perpetrator profiling

No known work has been progressed to profile the attackers of disabled people. From media reports only a little information can be gathered about the attackers and some of this may be distorted or incorrect so we only detail what is stated in the articles. It has to be recognised that there will be distortion in the facts we offer here as so few disabled people report incidents to the police and even fewer to the media.

 

The majority of attacks in the media have occurred in public or the disabled person’s home or care environment. Past research has stated most attacks on disabled people are by known neighbours or friends of the victim. Whilst this is also evidenced in the media articles re murders, carer abuse, arson attacks, rape and sexual abuse it is not evidenced around all the murders or majority of assaults, robberies, harassment, and online attacks.

 

Many incidents have been by groups of young people, girls and boys of three or more. But the majority have been by one person who decides either randomly, or specifically, to target a disabled person. Such attacks have been unprovoked in nature which is evidence enough that these are cases of hate crime and should be dealt with as such by police.

 

Action needed

  1. Professional perpetrator profiling is urgently required around the murders and violent attacks of disabled people. This could be facilitated by the police or CPS who have engaged professionals to undertake such work around domestic violence, for instance.
  2. A campaign to counteract the stereotypes and mis-beliefs about disabled people would challenge such perceptions. But this must originate from specialist disabled people/organisations with an understanding of the Social Model of Disability.
  3. Some past campaigns originating from non disabled people with the best of intentions have actually perpetuated and encouraged stereotyping and given more ways for people to abuse.

 

Reasons for targeted hostility This section should remain – though it might be better to put as conclusion.

There are many reasons and factors as to why a person decides to deliberately target a disabled person. From the language used about us it seems some is based on stereotyping and misbeliefs about what disabled people get in benefits, free, or it’s assumed fraudulently.

 

Many believe we are a burden too far for the state and for families to cope with, others believe that we get advantages that others do not such as ‘free new cars’ cheaper housing, extra money in benefits.

 

Also it is recognised that the way society treats disabled people unconsciously affects peoples perception re disability. From the criteria for abortions, the issue of segregation into special schools, homes or day centres, euthanasia and assisted suicide. All these debates inform the opinions of society about disabled people. Unfortunately most of this is negative and derogatory thereby encouraging misbeliefs about our capacities, abilities and value as human beings.

 

At times of recession and social change the focus on disabled people can become very hostile as people fight for jobs and limited resources. The language used about disabled people by our leaders also has its impact and therefore it’s very important that our leaders are aware of the power they have to influence opinions and use such power wisely.

 

It can take just one government minister choosing a derogatory term about disabled people or stating that so many commit fraud, when this is not actually true, to encourage a belief that people are justified in targeting disabled people in hostile and violent ways.

 

If society already believes disabled people are lives of less value it takes only a little more nudging to incite hatred and encourage hostility.

 

Action needed

  1. Our children need to be taught to embrace difference from a very early age, integrating disabled children where positively into mainstream schools is very important as is the teaching they receive about different peoples identity
  2. Training for all political leaders is urgently required so they understand the impact of their words when they target disabled people for service cuts and welfare reforms. Such reforms are not bad in themselves but the way they are advertised or decided upon must include the voice of disabled people.
  3. ‘Nothing about us without us’ is an ethos which is still not fully understood, even though we have legislation to ensure such inclusion, decisions are made every day, about us, without us.

Conclusion

This report has collated evidence about a range of hostility against disabled people.  Hundreds of media articles and other evidence has given us a glimpse into the hidden world that many have not believed existed. A world of inhumanity, horror and degradation. The world as it is for millions of disabled people throughout the world.

Our hope is that this evidence, with all the other evidence the EHRC inquiry will gather, will jump star a collection of strategies, polices and action plans at local and national level to ensure that disabled people are assured their human right to freedom from harassment and justice.

We are waiting to see evidence of disabled peoples organisations empowered to address this issue at local levels, with funding provided to Disabled People’s Organisations so we can resource, and train up, our future leaders of DPOs to actively work on the hostility and violations of human rights disabled people experience.

We wait still to see an approach that validates our message that nothing, absolutely nothing, should be initiated without the voice of disabled people being heard, involved, influencing and assisting to provide such initiatives.

We hope to see positive responses, to this report, from all justice agencies, local authorities and police services. A response that hears the voice of disabled people speaking out loudly and clearly in every aspect of this report.

 

Appendix 1

This list below provides a more detailed breakdown of each of the murder cases used in this report. Please note some cases are not described full in this report, as many are part of ongoing investigations.

 

  • 15 murders were committed by relatives, three of whom committed suicide after or during the murders:
    • Five men killed, or arranged the execution of their wives.
    • One man killed his girlfriend.
    • Six mothers killed their children; two adult daughters; two young daughters under 18; one adult son; and one young son under 18.
    • One adult son killed his elderly mother.
    • Adult granddaughter killed her grandmother for inheritance.
    • One father killed his adult disabled daughter.

 

  • 17 murders were committed by two or more people (some were strangers and some were friends):
    • One gang of two boys, two girls and two men attacked a disabled man.
    • One gang of two men and one woman attacked and tortured a disabled man.
    • One gang of two women attacked and robbed disabled man who died after attack.
    • One gang of four men attacked a disabled man.
    • One gang of three men killed a disabled man.
    • Three men punched a disabled young man to death.
    • Two men killed a disabled man.
    • Twin brothers killed a disabled man.
    • One man and two boys (aged 16 and 17) killed a disabled man.
    • One family of three men and three women tortured and then killed a disabled man.
    • Two boys (aged 18 and 17) frightened a disabled man to death.
    • One gang of three teenage boys killed a disabled woman by putting fireworks through her front door.
    • One gang of boys started a fire and killed a disabled couple.
    • Two men killed a disabled young woman.
    • Two men and a woman killed a disabled young woman.
    • One female carer, her son and his friend killed a disabled man.
    • Three men harassed and humiliated a disabled woman as she died.
    • Two male burglars tipped a man out of his wheelchair, causing him to bang his head and die.

 

  • 28 victims were murdered by strangers:
    • Five murders were committed by paid carers (some with the help of other people).
    • Nine murders were committed by neighbours/friends.
    • Three murders were due to arson attacks (two of these were due to a mobility scooter being set alight and placed across the front door of their sheltered home and the third victim had fireworks placed through her letter box).
    • One GP admitted to killing two very ill people.
    • One person admitted to assisting a suicide.
    • One person was murdered in a mental health hospital by another patient.

 

 

Appendix 2

The following pages detail statistical breakdown of  the media articles gathered. The media articles are in the Appendix to this report which can be accessed for research by relevant professions.

2010 (January – July)

Incidents/Crimes – 24 murders and 317 attacks/incidents

Attempted Murders – 4

Torture – 2

Kidnap – 1

Assaults – 95

Assault and robbery – 44

Rape and sexual assault – 30

Domestic Violence – 7

Carer abuse – 68 includes 44 allegations of abuse in care home.

Robbery/cons- 7

Harassment/bullying – 21

Befriending/grooming – 6

Disability equipment damage, guide dog attacks, theft and vandalism – 19 plus many guide dogs attacked by fighting dogs.

Arson attacks – 7

Online abuse/threats – 6

 

Gender – 311

Male -153

Female -105

Unknown – 53 includes 44 allegations of abuses in care home of men and woman with learning difficulties.

 

Impairments – 310

Physical disability- 143

Learning difficulty – 87 includes 44 claims of abuse in a care home

Sensory – 33

Mental health issues – 11

Multiple impairments -11

Vulnerable/disabled – 24

Unknown – 2

 

2009

Incidents/crimes – 15 murders and 96 attacks/incidents

Assaults – 42

Assault and robbery – 12

Rape and sexual assault – 8

Carer abuse/ sexual abuse – 5

Befriending/grooming – 1

Harassment/bullying – 20

Arson attacks – 2

Equipment damage – 6

 

Gender – 96

Male – 63

Female – 31

Unknown – 2

 

Impairments – 96

Physical disability – 58

Learning difficulty – 16

Sensory – 7

Mental Health Issues – 3

Multiple Impairments – 6

Unknown impairment – 6

 

2008

Incidents/crimes – 14 murders and 76 attacks/incidents

Attempted murders – 1

Torture – 2

Assaults – 27

Assault and robbery -15

Domestic Violence

Rape and sexual assault   – 7

Carer abuse/sexual abuse – 4

Befriending/grooming – 1

Harassment/bullying etc – 7

Arson attacks – 4 detailed

Equipment damage/theft – 8 detailed

 

Gender – 76 attacks 

Male – 55 attacks

Female – 21 attacks

 

Impairments – 76 attacks

Physical disability – 44 attacks

Learning Difficulty – 18 attacks

Sensory – 9 attacks

Mental health issues – 2 attacks

Multiple Impairments – 1 attack

Unknown – 2 attacks

 

2007 (August – December) 17 murders and 17 attacks /incidents

Assaults – 9

Domestic Violence – 1

Harassment – Group of war veterans

Rape and sexual assault – 1

Arson attacks – 4

Equipment theft/damage – 2

 

Gender

Male – 11

Female – 6

 

Impairment

Physical disability – 14 plus group of war veterans/amputees

Learning Difficulty – 1

Sensory – 1

Mental Health Issues – 0

Multiple Impairments – 1

 

 

Appendix 3

 

Geographical areas of attacks/murders/deaths August 2007- July 2010

 

The breakdown below lists a total 70 murders and 519 attacks/incidents. As in the main report, please note that not all articles listed the area inUK.

 

  • Unknown Region – 1 murder and 12 attacks

 

  • North East – 6 murders and 33 attacks
    • Tyneand Wear – 2 murders and 13 attacks
    • Teesside – 1 murder and 10 attacks
    • Darlington- 2 murders and 2 attacks
    • Northumberland – 1 murder and 5 attacks
    • Sheffield– 3 attacks

 

  • North West8 murders and 77 attacks
    • Cheshire– 2 murders and 2 attacks
    • Cumbria– 6 attacks
    • Lancashire– 1 murder and 31 attacks
    • Manchester– 4 murders and 22 attacks
    • Merseyside – 1 murder and 16 attacks

 

  • Yorkshire and Humberside – 5 murders and 73 attacks

 

  • East Midlands4 murders and 43 attacks
    • Lincolnshire– 1 murder and 10 attacks
    • Nottinghamshire -1 murder and  6 attacks
    • Derbyshire –  8 attacks
    • Leicestershire – 1 murder and  10 attacks
    • Northamptonshire – 1 murder and 9 attacks

 

  • West Midlands7 murders and 27 attacks
    • Staffordshire – 2 murder and  3 attacks
    • Shropshire–  1 murder and 2 attacks
    • Worcestershire – 2 murder  14 attacks
    • Warwickshire – 2 murders and 4 attacks
    • Walsall– 2 attacks
    • Stourbridge – 1 attack
    • Coventry– 1 attack

 

 

  • East Anglia5 murders and 45 attacks
    • Norfolk– 1 murder and 5 attacks
    • Cambridgeshire – 4 attacks
    • Bedfordshire – 2 murders and  3 attacks
    • Hertfordshire – 4 attacks
    • Suffolk– 5 attacks
    • Essex– 2 murders and 5 attacks

 

  • London3 murders, 1 death and 35 attacks

 

  • South East – 10 murders and 43 attacks
    • West Sussex– 2 murder and 3 attacks
    • East Sussex– 2 murders and 3 attacks
    • Kent– 2 murder and  6 attacks
    • Hampshire –  2 murders 19 attacks
    • Oxfordshire – 1 murder 6 attacks
    • Surrey–    2 attack and group of war veterans harassed
    • Buckinghamshire – 2 attacks
    • Berkshire–  1 murder and 2 attack

 

  • South West – 4 murders and 37 attacks
    • Dorset– 1 murder  4 attacks
    • Wiltshire – 1 attack
    • Devon– 6 attacks
    • Cornwall– 1 murder  3 attacks
    • Gloucestershire – 1 murder and 7 attacks
    • Somerset – 1 murder and16 attacks

 

  • Northern Ireland18 attacks

 

  • Wales4 murders and 11 attacks

 

  • Scotland –  13 murders and 65 attacks
    • Edinburgh and the Lothian’s – 2 murders and 24 attacks
    • MidScotlandandFife–  2 murders and 1 attack
    • GlasgowandClydeValley– 3 murders and 15 attacks
    • Aberdeencity and shire – 2 murder and 6 attacks
    • Ayrshire andArran– 2 murders and 3 attacks
    • Perthshire – 1 murder and 5 attacks
    • Ross shire andInverness– 2 attacks
    • Angus andDundee– 1 murder and 4 attacks
    • Highlandsand Moray – 1 attack
    • Scottish Borders – 1 attack
    • Stirling–1 attack
    • Unknown region – 2 attacks

 

Appendix 4

UK evidence contained on the Disability Awareness in Action (DAA) human rights database, as at February 2006.

The Disability Awareness in Action (DAA) database has collected violations against over 2 million disabled individuals around the world for the last three years.  All violations have occurred since 1990 and have been verified – we do not accept just an individual’s account.  Violations of articles 3 and 5 are generally obtained through reputable media channels or law reports.

In theUKwe have information on 999 cases of violations affecting 366.458 disabled people.  59% are violations against women only and 18.5% are against children.

The real horror story is that 40.9% of these violations in theUKare of degrading and inhuman treatment (Article 5) and 9.8% (682 people) violate the right to life itself (Article 3).

A further 26.3% have their standard of living violated (article 25), 11% have their freedom of movement violated (article 13) – this includes transport violations. 9% have their right to employment violated. And 4.8% have their right to education violated (article 26). There are also violations under most of the other articles.”

Some examples from the DAA Database:

1995 – A man killed his 40 year-old disabled brother by suffocation. He pleaded guilty but was not given a custodial sentence.

1997 – A 34 year-old man with paraplegia was murdered by his wife, a nurse, who gave him a lethal dose of insulin. Whilst he lay in hospital she also tampered with his feeding tubes. She was sentenced to life imprisonment.

1998 – 2001 Residents of a geriatric unit suffered verbal & physical abuse for three years, including forced to bathe in freezing water, hit with showerheads, had their hands tied behind their backs, had mouths and lips pinched for swearing, verbally and physically abused.

2000 – A 33 year old man with dyslexia was shrink-wrapped with plastic and verbally abused by his work mates.

2000 – Headmaster of a school for disabled children physically abused several of the children. He received a custodial sentence of one year.

2001 – A blind council tenant was evicted, his locks changed and his guide dog shut outside his flat because he had received a written notice and not a Braille communication. The Council apologised but there was no compensation.

2001 – A man with a learning disability was walking home with another physically disabled person when they were set on by a gang of youths and hit to such an extent that they required stitches.

2001 – A care home nurse injected 84 year-old patient with a lethal dosage of sedative because she was too lazy to look after her.  The nurse was jailed for life.

2002 – A one year-old baby with spina bifida was killed by severe fractures to the skull by her mother and boyfriend who alleged that his 3 year-old daughter had drowned the baby in a cold bath.

2002 – A 30 year-old man with mental health problems was kicked to death by three youths outside a supermarket. The attackers have been convicted of murder and been given sentences of at least nine years.

2003 – A man with visual impairment and mobility problems was verbally abused by children in local park who also threw stones at him and his guide dog.

2003 – Children displaying disruptive behaviour due to ADHD in young offenders institution are being stripped naked and locked in small cells with no furniture, light or toilet facilities.

2004 – A woman in care home was raped by volunteer. He had applied to become a volunteer whilst serving a prison sentence for burglary and thefts from charity shops.

2004 – A 38 year-old disabled woman living with a family friend was used as an unpaid servant, nanny and hired out to others for £2.00 a day. She sometimes had to sleep on the floor and had her benefits taken away from her.

 

Appendix 5

The Social Model of Disability (Fundamental Principles 1975)

Disability is the disadvantage or restriction of activity caused by contemporary social organisation that takes little or no account of people who have impairments and thus excludes them from participation in the mainstream of social activities. Disability is a particular form of social oppression.

Disability is a situation, caused by social conditions. In order to get rid of disability, we need to make sure that:

 

  • That not one aspect, such as incomes, mobility or institutions is treated in isolation.

 

  • That disabled people should, with the advice and help of others, assume control over their own lives.

 

  • That professionals, experts and others who seek to help must be committed to promoting such control by disabled people.

 

The Social Model of Disability

 

  • was developed by disabled people to describe and take action against discrimination

 

  • it frames the “problem” of disability in social terms rather than viewing the disabled person as the problem

 

  • it enables us to define specific areas for change, and in particular to identify negative attitudes, communication barriers and physical access as major areas for improvement

 

  • it enables disabled people to join together to campaign for better attitudes and improved communication and access, no matter what their impairment

 

  • it enables disabled people to express their situation in terms of human rights and as an issue of equality

 

  • it takes the focus off what disabled people can’t do and puts it on what we could all do in alliance to bring about equality

 

  • Please note: other models of disability which disempower and oppress are all individual models. The medical model, focusing on functional impairment is the best known but we can also identify an administrative model, managing the demands of disability through assessment; and a charity model, responding to disability as a personal tragedy.

 



[1] Disclaimer: The figures used throughout this report are based on media articles that have been researched extensively over a period three years. There will have been many attacks and incidents that do not get captured in the media. And sometimes media details are not always correct. Faith, sexuality and race issues are not consistently provided in media articles, so these are not detailed.

 


Share This:

 Posted by at 16:26
May 142012
 

Live in London?Is your support funding  being cut? Costs rising and eligibility tightened?  Are your needs being met? Do you have choice and control over the support you get? 

Inclusion London are carrying out a survey to collect information about care cuts and increases in charging. 

This is an e-survey but if you want to take part and find that difficult to access then Henrietta would be happy to speak to you on the phone.

The link to the survey is  http://www.inclusionlondon.co.uk/tell-us-what-is-happening-to-your-social-care 

Henrietta  Doyle

 

Policy Officer

Inclusion London

Can Mezzanine

49-51 East Road

London

N1 6AH

Direct Line: 020 7036 6033

Tel: 020 7237 3181

SMS: 0771 839 4687

 

henrietta.doyle@inclusionlondon.co.uk

www.inclusionlondon.co.uk

Twitter: @inclusionlondon

 

 

Share This:

 Posted by at 16:00
May 142012
 

Share This:

May 132012
 

DPAC UNIVERSAL CREDIT CAMPAIGN

 

www.dpac.uk.net

 

Linda Burnip

01926 842253

0771 492 7533

linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk

 

Debbie Jolly

01572 820546

079461 40765

mail@dpac.uk.net

 

Universal Credit: What it means

The coalition government and New Labour before them agreed that a reform to the current benefits system was long overdue. In November 2010 the Coalition published a white paper on Universal Credit. It is claimed to be the biggest overhaul of the benefits system since the 1940s when what was known as the welfare state began.

The Government White Paper, ‘Universal Credit: welfare that works’ was published on 11 November 2010 laying out the first steps of the overhaul of the welfare process. The Welfare reform Bill through which this will be introduced was forcibly passed through the Commons and Lords earlier this year by the Coalition government.

This paper deals with Universal Credit. It examines what it means, what it may mean for disabled people and what the key changes will be.

What is Universal Credit?

The coalition notes that there are over 30 different social payments or benefit systems in place. They think this is confusing and too complex for people to understand. They believe that by combining social payments/benefits into one universal payment things will be easier and better for people. Universal credit is intended to be a new benefit which will replace:

  • child tax credit
  • housing benefit
  • income related employment and support allowance
  • income based jobseekers allowance
  • income support
  • social fund budgeting loans
  • working tax credit

Universal credit is a proposed system that will see many social payments or benefits merged into one single payment. The coalition claims that nobody will be worse off under this system. However, the rhetoric of a fairer system is coached in terms of welfare dependency which suggests that this strategy main aim is to reduce welfare spending.

The white paper begins by saying:

The Government is committed to reforming the welfare system to make it fairer, more affordable and to tackle poverty and welfare dependency, whilst continuing to support the most vulnerable in society

The scheme is estimated to cost 2 million to set up. First steps towards the coalition’s vision included strategies introduced in the budget and spending review of 2010. These included:

  • capping household benefit payments so that families do not receive more in welfare than median after-tax earnings for working households;
  • withdrawing Child Benefit from families with a higher rate taxpayer;
  • measures to control the cost of Tax Credits, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit; and
  • time-limiting contributory Employment and Support Allowance for those in the Work Related Activity Group.

The capping of housing benefit payments is likely to hit disabled people particularly hard at a time of rent increases in social housing and the private rented sector.

Whilst withdrawing child benefit from families with a higher rate tax payer may suggest making things fairer, it actually undermines the principle of universality in built into child benefit to ensure that it was not means tested but a benefit to aid mothers bringing up children. The removal of higher rate tax payers is in effect removing that safeguard and the first step towards to means testing.

Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) replaces incapacity benefit for all disabled people from 2014. Those in the work related activity group are deemed to be ‘fit for work’ and will have their benefit limited to 12 months retrospectively from the date of the comprehensive spending review or the award if the award was made after the 20 October 2010. There are other categories of the Employment and Support Allowance such as the support group, these will be unaffected by the time –limits. Those in the work related group will be expected to sign up for job seekers allowance a lower amount compared to ESA.

At the time of the White paper Universal credit did not include:

  • bereavement benefits
  • contributory jobseeker’s allowance
  • contributory employment and support allowance
  • disability living allowance
  • child benefit
  • industrial injuries disablement benefit
  • maternity allowance
  • statutory maternity pay
  • statutory sick pay
  • pension credit

However, since this time clear proposals to abolish Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and replace it with Personal Independence Payment (PIP) have been put forward with the reasoning that 20% needs to be cut from the case loads of DLA.

The paper says universal credit ‘will consist of a basic personal amount’ with additional amounts for ‘disability, caring responsibilities, housing costs, and children’.

When will Universal credit begin?

The white paper stated that universal credit would be rolled out in October 2013. Pilots are due to begin in May 2013.

Claiming and accessibility

Claims are set to be made online and on the basis of households, rather than individuals

Claims will be made on the basis of households rather than individuals and both members of a couple will be required to claim Universal Credit. Claims for Universal Credit will normally be made through the internet and we expect that most subsequent contact between recipients and the delivery agency will also be conducted online. People will be able to obtain all elements of Universal Credit through a single application, ending the excessive form filling of the current system, reducing scope for error and reducing administration costs p.25

Two issues arise for disabled people; the first is that claims made on behalf of a household will exacerbate some disabled peoples’ feelings of dependence as opposed to independence and independent living. The second is that access to computers and to the internet is known to be lower for disabled people and those with lower incomes. Although the paper mentions ‘ These changes will enable the targeting of resources to support vulnerable people with additional needs’ (p.25) which we assume is disabled people, no further method of the method or how this will be achieved is given.

Payment Periods

The paper states that the coalition is considering both payment and assessments on a monthly basis. This would seem to suggest that entitlement will need to be re-registered and hence re- assessed on a monthly basis.

Critiques of universal credit

The coalition claim that nobody will be worse off under the new universal credit, however current proposed changes suggest that this may not be the case for disabled people or others on low incomes. Universal credit appears to be focused on getting people into work and away from benefits. It is laudable that the coalition accept that some people may be worse off in work than on benefits and are attempting to adjust the discrepancy.

At the same time as assessment s for ESA have come under constant and increasing criticism for being unfair[i] it is unlikely that disabled people declared as ‘fit for work’ under the Work Capability Assessment will benefit from this change. The WCA shows that ‘target driven’ simplified tests do not work. It is likely to be the same with one single benefit system –how will this be able to address the complexities of different impairments, multiple impairments, and the multitude of disabling barriers that disabled people face?

Sanctions

In addition, the universal credit and welfare reform will bring in ‘a commitment’ for those who fail to ‘apply themselves’ to proper work seeking activities to tougher sanctions. Once again this will not address the complexity of employment related barriers that disabled people face, even if they really are ‘fit for work’.

Page 21 of the white paper states:

We will require every Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance recipient to have a claimant commitment. The commitment will set out our general expectations of recipients, and the requirements placed upon them; it will also be clear about the consequences for the recipient of failing to meet these agreed standards. This will be carried forward into Universal Credit.

 

 

DPAC say that Disabled People and Disabled Children should not be penalised in this way when £25 billion in unclaimed taxes remains uncollected, bankers continue to receive massive bonuses, and MPs spend £40,000 for trees in Portcullis House plus thousands more for their personal expenses.

 

Summary of key points of the bill

  • The introduction of a Universal Credit to replace existing means-tested benefits and tax credits for people of working age from 2013.

 

  • The introduction of Personal Independence Payments to replace Disability Living Allowance with a stated aim of reducing the number of claimants by 20% and replacing the current 3 bands of the care component with only 2. Half a million disabled people will lose their entitlement to DLA which in many cases is what allows them to work.

 

  • At the moment anyone getting the mobility component of DLA before the age of 65 continues to receive it once they reach 65 but with PIP proposals they will not be able to continue to claim PIP once they reach 65 and there is no mobility component of Attendance Allowance.

 

  • Limiting of contribution based Employment and Support Allowance payments to 12 months for those in the Work Related Activity Group. This is what people think they are paying National Insurance contributions to be entitled to if they need it.  100,000 people will lose out at the beginning of April 2013 and another 100,000 will lose out  the following April after 12 months on the benefit.

 

  • Removal of ESA entitlement from young disabled people under 25 years of age. Non-disabled young adults are treated as such from the age of 18 yet you will no longer be treated as an individual adult if you are disabled. At the same time Income Support is being abolished as well so it remains unclear what if any money younger disabled people will be entitled to.

 

  • Caps on the total amount of benefit any claimant can get, for both housing needs and living expenses. The suggested total amount is £350 for a single person and £500 per week regardless of family size, or costs of housing. This will particularly affect those living in areas such as London where rents are higher than average. Currently 7 out of 8 people who get Housing Benefit are in low paid jobs, so having a living wage might well reduce the overall benefit bill more effectively than demonising benefit claimants further.

 

  • Much has been made of the figure of £26,000 as the maximum annual cap but the vast majority of claimants will in fact get far less then £26,000. Only 1% of claimants will be affected by this cap level but that will still be 67,000 families. In Brent alone 3,300 families are due to lose benefits because of the cap. Social cleansing of poor families has already started in boroughs like Westminster.

 

  • Half of all household affected by the cap on benefits has a disabled person living in them. Moving is often not an option as care packages are not transportable across local authority boundaries, and continuity of other services is often essential.

 

  • Social housing tenants with a spare bedroom will no longer get funding for the extra room. Most will lose £12 a week. The National Housing Federation estimate 180,000 social tenants are underoccupying 2 bedroom homes but there were only 68,000 1 bed social homes to rent in 2009-2010. Even the DWP EIA said there were not enough 1 bedroom properties.

 

  • This is unlikely to reduce housing costs as a couple with one child having to move from a 3 bed social house in Crawley and rent a smaller property in the private sector would be able to get £66 a week more in Housing Benefit.

 

  • It will link Local Housing Allowance rates to CPI index, which excludes housing costs.

 

  • The resulting increase in homelessness will lead to local authorities paying out millions more in costs.

 

  • Not excluding child benefit from the cap levels will mean anyone having a child will not get any extra money to care for them. This will increase child poverty rates and child benefit for a first child is currently about £1,000 per year.

 

  • With the scrapping of Income support single parents with a child over 5 years of age must work or be available for work to receive Job Seekers Allowance.

 

  • The Severe Disability Premium currently part of Income Support will disappear and there are no details about what if anything will replace this. This amount makes up one-third of some severely disabled people’s incomes.

 

  • Claims will be made on the basis of households rather than individuals and both members of a couple will be required to claim Universal Credit. If couples have savings over £6,000 or one of them receives an income then the other will not be able to claim anything else.

 

  • As income support is being abolished carers entitled to benefits will be reduced to 40% of current claimants. Those carers who are also disabled will lose about half of their income as they will only be able to claim one Universal Credit premium either as a carer or a disabled person.

 

  • Removal of the Social Fund which has previously given grants to enable people to buy essential items or to allow women fleeing domestic violence to move. Some of this funding will now go to local authorities but will not be ring-fenced in any way.

 

  • Withdrawing Child Benefit from families with a higher rate taxpayer will affect many families adversely and takes women’s rights backwards.

 

  • Many families with disabled children will face a cut to the financial support they receive from tax credits. The new system will result in these children losing up to £1,400 per year The Government estimates that 100,000 disabled children would lose out under this change.

 

  • Changes to Tax Credits will also affect families caring for disabled children as claimants of these will need to work at least 24 hours rather then 16 hours per week so many families will lose tax credits.

 

  • To access the Child support Agency single parents will have to pay a fee reduced from a suggested £100 down to £20 plus 7-12% of any maintenance collected for them.

 

  • All claims are to be processed via the internet which is not accessible for many disabled people.

 

  • In addition, the universal credit and welfare reform will bring in ‘a commitment’ for those who fail to ‘apply themselves’ to proper work seeking activities to tougher sanctions. Once again this will not address the complexity of employment related barriers that disabled people face, even if they really are ‘fit for work’.

Sanctions proposed include:

  1. a.   Failure to meet a requirement to prepare for work (applicable to jobseekers and those in the Employment and Support Allowance Work-Related Activity Group) will lead to 100 per cent of payments ceasing until the recipient re-complies with requirements and for a fixed period after re-compliance (fixed period sanctions start at one week, rising to two, then four weeks with each subsequent failure to comply).

 

  1. b.   Failure to actively seek employment or be available for work will lead to payment ceasing for four weeks for a first failure and up to three months for a second.

 

  1. c.   The most serious failures that apply only to jobseekers will lead to Jobseeker’s Allowance payment ceasing for a fixed period of at least three months (longer for repeat offences). Actions that could trigger this level of penalty include failure to accept a reasonable job offer, failure to apply for a job or failure to attend unpaid Mandatory Work Activity.

 

  1. d.   Some types of recipient, such as lone parents with young children, are only required to attend work-focused interviews and their failure to attend is more often due to challenging circumstances than wilful evasion of the rules. However, financial sanctions where necessary will be applied.

 



 

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May 132012
 

 

 

 

DISABLED PEOPLE AGAINST CUTS

 

www.dpac.uk.net

 

HOUSING AND HOUSING BENEFITS- BRIEFING NOTES

 

Linda Burnip

01926 842253

0771 492 7533

linda_burnip@yahoo.co.uk

mail@dpac.uk.net

 

The future prognosis for disabled people’s housing is grim

 

  • Already 30% of disabled people live below the poverty line and 1 in 4 families with disabled children can’t afford heating.

 

  • The Chartered Institute of Housing has calculated that the cumulative effects of the coalition’s proposals mean that by 2020 every tenants’ Housing Benefit will be too low to cover their rent.

 

Changes to Housing Benefits from April 2011

 

The size criteria will be adjusted to provide for an additional bedroom for a non-resident carer ( ie not a member of your family who shares your home) where a disabled customer has an established need for overnight care. This must be claimed for and will not be awarded automatically.

 

While this is a very small positive change it still totally fails to address the lack of an extra room for disabled children who need an extra bedroom, pensioner and other couples who need an extra room due to their medical needs, and a wide range of other disability related factors which mean disabled people need extra housing space including the need for space for dialysis, room to store equipment, room to use a wheelchair, ground-floor and level access accommodation. The recent DWP Select committee into LHA said that these factors were posing considerable barriers to independent living and should be addressed urgently but still have not been. In essence the overall proposed changes to LHA will simply increase these barriers.

 

From January 2012 – Under 35s

 

Any single  person under 35 years of age renting in the private rented sector who is disabled but not in receipt of middle or higher rate DLA care component will not be able to claim for more than a shared room rate. As DLA is now being scrapped we currently have no idea of the full impact of these 2 changes together.

 

The difference between the LHA for a one-bed property and single room rate is almost 50% and inEdinburghthe one bed rate is £114.23 per week compared to £66.92 per week. It is generally agreed that there are not enough houses in multiple occupancy for everyone who needs to move to be able to do so. ssac’s own report estimated this move alone to change Housing Benefit could lead to 11,000 people becoming homeless.

 

Disabled people who are most likely to be disproportionately affected by these changes are those who most need to live in peaceful surroundings such as those with Mental Health and Neuro-Diverse impairments.

 

From October 2011

 

The Local Housing Allowance has been set at the 30th percentile rent in each Broad Market Rental Area, rather then the 50th percentile as before. Disabled people will only be able to afford to rent in the cheapest properties in an area, which are more than likely to be inaccessible.

 

This will also increase the difficulties disabled people face in finding suitable accommodation to live independently , increase homelessness amongst disabled people and push disabled people further into poverty especially if DLA recipients are cut by half a million as planned by DWP.

 

The proposed changes to the 30th percentile, rather then the median, rent being used to calculate LHA from October 2011 will only make these matters worse than they already are and will constitute serious breaches of UNCRPD particularly article 28, article 19,and article 7. New changes to our legislation should not be allowed to contravene these convention rights.

 

Longer term reforms

 

These required primary legislation

 

from 2013-14 Local Housing Allowance and Housing Benefit rates will be upgraded in line with CPI ( Consumer Price Index)  rather than on the basis of local rents. CPI does not include any account being taken of housing costs so this will result in the amount of money people can get to help pay their rents being even lower. At the same time this will apply to increases in other benefit rates and an estimate I have seen is that disabled people will be £300 per year worse off because of this.

 

Social Rented Sector

There are plans to remove any security of tenure from social housing tenants and to increase rents to 80% of market values. Together with the caps on Housing Benefits this will make renting in the social housing sector unaffordable in many higher priced areas  of the country.

 

The Bedroom Tax

From 2013 housing benefit for working age social rented sector customers will be restricted for those who are occupying a larger property than their household size would warrant. This is something that the Labour government and DWP tried to introduce in Welfare Reform bill 2007 but were forced to drop by pressure from Housing Associations. It means that if you are living in an adapted property which may have cost thousands of pounds to adapt then if you also have an extra bedroom you have no apparent need for you will only get HB paid at the one bedroom rate.

 

Evicting disabled people from adapted properties when there are few other accessible and adapted ones available seems an act of lunacy and an unnecessary expense to taxpayers as well as causing untold misery to disabled people who will be affected by all of this.

 

Social housing tenants who no longer get funding for an extra room will mostly lose £12 a week. The National Housing Federation estimate 180,000 social tenants are underoccupying 2 bedroom homes but there were only 68,000 1 bed social homes to rent in 2009-2010. Even the DWP EIA said there were not enough 1 bedroom properties.

 

This is unlikely to reduce housing costs as a couple with one child having to move from a 3 bed social house in Crawley and rent a smaller property in the private sector would be able to get £66 a week more in Housing Benefit.

 

Discretionary Housing Payments

 

Recognising the chaos their HB reforms are going to make the sum allocated by government has increased by £10 million in 2011 and by £40 million in 2012. This will apparently give more flexibility to local authorities but DHPs are not supposed to cover long term housing costs and have to be applied for every 13 weeks. There is no right of appeal if they are refused although you can seek a Judicial Review.Leicesterfor example has now introduced a policy where they will only pay for a maximum of 13 weeks during which time disabled people getting a DHP are harrassed to move to a cheaper property, regardless of their independent living needs.

 

Less important changes for disabled people who live outside ofLondon, but disastrous for anyone living inLondonor other high priced areas of the country. Planned introduction postponed until 2012.

 

Local Housing Allowance levels have been restricted to the 4 bedroom rate. The 5 bedroom rate has been scrapped.

 

Caps have been introduced which are

 

A new upper limit will be introduced

£250 a week for a one bedroom property

£290 a week for a 2 bedroom property

£340 a week for a 3 bedroom property

£420 a week for a 4 bedroom property

 

According to government figures about 3-3,500 disabled people rent privately in centralLondon. DPOs in London however have raised concerns that as the centre of London becomes unaffordable to most disabled people then there will be additional pressures on local councils for example in Brent where there is already a 10 year waiting list for re-housing as more people are forced to move.

 

Half of all household affected by the cap on benefits has a disabled person living in them. Moving is often not an option as care packages are not transportable across local authority boundaries, and continuity of other services is often essential.

 

Universal credit will introduce caps on the total amount of benefit any claimant can get, for both housing needs and living expenses. The suggested total amount is £350 for a single person and £500 per week regardless of family size, or costs of housing. This will particularly affect those living in areas such asLondonwhere rents are higher than average. Currently 7 out of 8 people who get Housing Benefit are in low paid jobs, so having a living wage might well reduce the overall benefit bill more effectively than demonising benefit claimants further.

 

Much has been made of the figure of £26,000 as the maximum annual cap but the vast majority of claimants will in fact get far less then £26,000. Only 1% of claimants will be affected by this cap level but that will still be 67,000 families. In Brent alone 3,300 families are due to lose benefits because of the cap. Social cleansing of poor families has already started in boroughs likeWestminster.

 

Mortgage Interest changes

Changes to the amounts paid to mortgage interest for disabled claimants have been estimated to potentially lead to an additional 64,000 disabled people becoming homeless.

 

Cumulative Impact

The resulting increase in homelessness will lead to local authorities paying out millions more in costs.

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