97% of disability hate crime goes unreported.
This is a shocking statistic, and one that Disability Equality Scotland has been working to address. As a membership organisation, we know that disabled people often brush off incidents of abuse, mistreatment, harassment and bullying because they are all too common. We want to raise awareness of disability hate crime and encourage people (not just victims, but witnesses) to make reports.
So we were delighted to support the launch of the National Hate Crime Charter for public transport on 24 March 2021. This was the culmination of four-years’ worth of consultation and engagement with disabled people and other vulnerable groups.
Disability Equality Scotland led the Working Group made up of key partners including South-East Scotland Transport Partnership (SESTran), People First Scotland, Police Scotland and British Transport Police, for this project on behalf of, Transport Scotland.
We want all people using public transport networks in Scotland to be free from hate crime, prejudice, bullying or harassment. The Hate Crime Charter is to encourage transport providers and passengers to support a zero-tolerance approach to hate crime and encourage the reporting of incidents.
Prior to launch, we held a series of consultation events to understand what a Charter would have to be like, and what design would have the most impact. Three designs of a Charter were piloted during December 2019, where we worked with transport partners, Stagecoach, FirstBus and ScotRail. Over an eight-week period, the Charter was seen by 1.2million passengers. Initial results demonstrated an increased awareness amongst transport staff who also felt better equipped to recognise and report hate crime that they encountered.
Recent statistics released from Police Scotland and feedback from members of Disability Equality Scotland through our series of weekly polls, indicated that hate crime incidents have increased during the pandemic. We wanted to make sure that as Scotland eases out of lockdown and that there is a return to public transport, that people feel safe and comfortable to do so.
We know from our public consultations that people would rather travel on a service that shows its commitment to tackling hate crime, than not. This Charter provides clear and common standards for challenging hate crime, encouraging reporting with the overall aim of prevention of hate crime incidents on the public transport network.
I was delighted to gain the support of Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson who said:
“I fully support the launch of the national Hate Crime Charter for public transport. I commend the work of Disability Equality Scotland and partners for promoting this zero-tolerance approach.
“We want Scotland to have a transport network that is safe for everyone to use and this Charter will help to raise awareness of hate crime, in all its forms, and remind everyone that it will not be tolerated.”
The next stage is to encourage as many transport providers as possible to pledge their support. We want people to visit our dedicated pages on the Accessible Travel Hub site – www.accessibletravel.scot/hate-crime (this link will take you away from our website)
Here you’ll find information on how to become a supporter of the Charter, but also how to recognise and report incidents of hate crime.