Hate crime handling 'disappointing'
The criminal justice system has failed to act on recommendations to improve the way disability hate crime is dealt with, inspectors have warned.
A report published in March 2013 found that victims of the offence were being let down and more people should be encouraged to report incidents.
It urged police, prosecutors and probation trusts to adopt and publish a ''single, clear and uncomplicated'' definition of the crime.
The recommendations were made in a bid to ensure that it is treated in the same way as other hate crimes, such as race, religion and sexual orientation.
But neither the police nor the Crown Prosecution Service has succeeded in significantly improving performance in relation to disability hate crime while it is still not dealt with effectively overall by the probation service, according to a review by the independent bodies which made the recommendations.
The report was carried out by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMCPSI) and HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP).
They concluded: " This follow-up reveals that there has been insufficient progress made against the recommendations.
"An opportunity to achieve improvements in the criminal justice system for all members of society has not yet been taken."
Over two years ago they called on the police, prosecutors and probation trusts to consider how their front-line staff participated in disability hate crime training, and stated that the police should ensure every opportunity was taken to identify victims.
The CPS was urged to put regular checks in place to ensure the accuracy of all data relating to the crime, while it was recommended that probation trusts should tackle the issue among known offenders.
HMCPSI Chief Inspector Kevin McGinty said: " The report's conclusions show that although the three criminal justice agencies have undertaken some initiatives to improve the way they deal with disability hate crime, the overall performance, acknowledged by all agencies, is still disappointing.
"The police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the probation service recognise that further work needs to be carried out to ensure disability hate crime victims are recognised and given the appropriate level of support and service by the criminal justice system."
HMIC Inspector Drusilla Sharpling said: " There has been work nationally to drive up reporting levels of disability hate crime and improve standards of service to victims but progress continues to depend on how well this is implemented locally.
"We did find some good practice, but criminal justice agencies did not consistently recognise disability hate crime and respond effectively."
The CPS, the College of Policing and the National Police Chiefs' Council released a joint statement to acknowledge that more needed to be done to help victims.
It read: " It's disappointing that the measures put in place to build confidence among those who experience disability hate crime have not led to a significant increase in reporting.
"Whilst reporting rates in England and Wales are higher than in other countries, we recognise that there is a need to make further progress."
It added: " We are committed to working together and alongside local organisations in order to press forward and ensure all members of our society are treated as equals."