Living in fear: better outcomes for people with learning disabilities and autism. Main research report

BEADLE-BROWN Julie, et al
University of Kent. Tizard Centre
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Reports on the findings of a three-year research project to investigate incidents of disability hate crime experienced by people with autism and learning disabilities in Medway, Kent. The research was carried out by Autism London, MCCH, Kent Police and the Tizard Centre at the University of Kent. The study included a review of calls to the National Autistic Society and Autism London helplines; focus groups with people with learning disabilities and autism (n=31) and with family and paid carers (n=33); responses to a survey exploring the victimisation experiences of people with learning disabilities and autism (n=255); and in-depth interviews (n=27); and focus groups with the police to identify the difficulties they experience in responding to hate crime. Results found that at least one third of people involved in the research Medway had experienced some form of victimisation as adults. Types of hate crime varied and included physical attacks, threats, verbal abuse and damage to property. Key findings from focus groups with the police identified: lack of a clear definition of disability hate crime, a low level of individual police officers’ knowledge and experience of disability; and lack of a systematic method of establishing whether people reporting victimisation are vulnerable. The report calls for more specialist victim support, counselling and therapies for victims with autism and learning disabilities. It also identifies a need for better and more effective ways for victims to report incidents. Recommendations are made for National and Local implementation. The report also provides some examples of good practice in dealing with situations of victimisation or hate crime. (Edited publisher abstract)

Subject terms:
hate crime, learning disabilities, autism, autistic spectrum conditions, user views, police, vulnerable adults, carers, attitudes, investigations;
Content type:
United Kingdom
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