Nearly a third of people who have contacted the police about anti-social behaviour are disabled people, according to a major national report.
The Stop the Rot report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) says anti-social behaviour (ASB) across England and Wales is a “blight” on the lives of millions of people, and calls for police to make a “new start” in tackling it.
Of nearly 5,700 people who contacted the police about ASB and took part in a survey for the report, 29 per cent said they were disabled or had a health condition.
And more than a third (36 per cent) of callers who said they had reported ASB six times or more in the last year were disabled or had a health condition.
Disabled people were also much more likely than non-disabled people to have faced intimidation (43 per cent, against 27 per cent) after making a stand against ASB.
The report says that of 43 police forces across England and Wales, only 22 have IT systems that help them identify and prioritise repeat callers, with just 16 of them able to identify those most at risk of harm.
Sir Denis O’Connor, the chief inspector of constabulary, said: “Perpetrators need to know they are wrecking lives, the results can be tragic and that they will get swift action from the authorities if the public call for help.”
The report’s publication came in the same week that magistrates sentenced a teenager for repeatedly harassing a man with learning difficulties.
David Askew, whose family had faced 17 years of abuse, bullying and harassment at the hands of local yobs, collapsed and died soon after Greater Manchester Police received the latest report of harassment outside his home.
The HMIC review says the impact of ASB is even greater for repeat victims, particularly those who are disabled people.
Among its recommendations, the report calls for police officers to visit more victims of ASB, prioritise repeat victims and those most at risk of harm, and for forces to give their officers the information and resources they need to act on ASB.
Stephen Brookes, coordinator of the Disability Hate Crime Network, said the anti-social behaviour highlighted in the report was “just the tip of the iceberg”.
He said: “The network has brought to light a massive issue and people are recognising that it has to be sorted because it is far bigger than anybody ever thought.”
But he added: “It is not just a police issue. It is the Crown Prosecution Service, social services, local government, every single agency needs to sit down and get their act together. Unless they do, there will be more deaths.”