New campaign launched against disability hate crimes

A woman with Down's syndrome who was spat on at a railway station is one of the faces behind a new Police Scotland campaign encouraging people to report disability hate crime.

Police Scotland has launched a new campaign against disability hate crime with the help of Sam Ross.

Sam Ross, who was attacked by a stranger in Glasgow, said she wanted to be part of the Don't Tolerate Hate campaign to help stop this type of crime happening to others.

Police Scotland said evidence suggests disability hate crimes are significantly under-reported. They account for four per cent of police reports, while one in five people in Scotland have a registered disability.

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"One day I was waiting on the platform for my train and an older man wearing a green jacket came up to me and spat in my eye for no reason then just walked on without saying anything.

"I was just standing waiting on the train. I don't understand why someone would do that. I felt shocked."

She added: "I didn't report it to police myself as I didn't know it was a crime but when I told my dad we reported it. I just don't want this to happen to anyone else, which is why I wanted to be part of this campaign. I want people to report hate crime to police."

Police Scotland said a range of reporting options are available for victims or witnesses of disability hate crime, including in person at a police station or to an officer in the street, by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency. The force also has an online reporting form and accepts reports made through a third party reporting centre.

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie said: "Disability hate crime is never acceptable. It is deplorable for anyone to be targeted because of any kind of disability.

"Sadly it's happening day in, and day out across the country but people should never just accept it as a part of life."

He added: "Our message to everyone - whether they've been a victim of hate crime or witnessed it - is this: Don't tolerate hate.

"We understand it can be difficult for people to speak to the police about an emotional issue like this but we will help and support you in any way we can throughout the entire process.

"Anyone reporting disability hate crime will be treated sympathetically, taken seriously, and their experience will be thoroughly investigated."

Anti-disability hate crime charity, I Am Me Scotland, backs the campaign. Chairwoman Eileen MacLean said: "It is vital people report incidents to police and to tackle this there are a lot of options for people to report hate crime, including through our free Keep Safe Scotland app."