DISABILITIES: Get tough on hate crime

Learning disability hate crime, online and offline, is an important issue not often talked about.

The abuse that Katie Price’s son Harvey has been experiencing online is not right. However, it does not mean that Harvey should be forced to limit his use of social media.

For too long, myself and other people with learning disabilities have been excluded from digital spaces out of fear of abuse.

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We have a right to feel safe online. What needs to change is the behaviour of the abusers.

Online disability hate crime should have tougher laws. Abusers should be prosecuted and their profiles taken down. Social media companies should make their safety procedures easier to understand so people know how to better protect ourselves.

Through #ImWithSam, we’ve been campaigning to raise awareness of this among policy makers, the public and people with learning disabilities so that they recognise when a crime is happening and what they can do.

Katie Price’s advocacy has helped put the issue of disability hate crime on the agenda.

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The report by the Petitions Committee, which followed her petition to make online abuse illegal, alongside the Law Commission review into hate crime, are steps in the right direction.

Things need to change and I hope the Government takes the problem of hate crime seriously so that Harvey and other people with learning disabilities are free to express themselves online, free from fear.

Mark Brookes,

Campaigns Adviser, Dimensions