Hate crimes against the disabled have more than tripled in five years and prosecutors have warned the rise could be the tip of the iceberg.
Reports of aggravation of prejudice relating to disability have risen by 270% from 48 in 2010/11 to 177 last year, official figures from the Crown Office have revealed. There was a 20% increase since 2013/14 alone.
The report states: “There is a broad consensus that this type of crime continues to be under reported compared to other forms of hate crime.
“Both Police Scotland and COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) are engaged in a variety of activities aimed at increasing the level of awareness, especially amongst disability communities, that hate crime is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.”
The number of charges reported in all hate crime categories with the exception of disability fell in 2014/15 compared to the previous year.
Racial crime remains the most commonly reported hate crime, with 3,785 charges reported in 2014/15, but this is the lowest number reported since 2003/04.
Sexual orientation aggravated crime is the second most common type of hate crime. The number of charges reported decreased by 5% in 2014-15 to 841. This is the first annual fall in charges reported since the legislation introducing this aggravation came into force in 2010.
The number of religiously aggravated charges reported, at 569, is at its lowest level since 2004-05. Including charges that are now reported under the Offensive Behaviour at football legislation, religious related charges are at their lowest level since 2009-10.
Charges reported in 2014/15 for threatening communications were 6% lower than in 2013-14, at 193.