Inquiry into disability-related harassment reports

13 September 2011 by

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published Hidden in plain sight, a report into disability-related harassment and how well this is currently being addressed by public authorities.

The report, which finds a “systemic failure by public authorities to recognise the extent and impact of harassment and abuse of disabled people” can be downloaded here, the “easy read” version here and the executive summary here. I have also reposted the Executive Summary via Scribd below. The Inquiry found, amongst other things:

  • Cases of disability-related harassment which come to court and receive media attention are only the tip of the iceberg. Our evidence indicates that, for many disabled people, harassment is a commonplace experience. Many come to accept it as inevitable.
  • Disabled people often do not report harassment, for a number of reasons: it may be unclear who to report it to; they may fear the consequences of reporting; or they may fear that the police or other authorities will not believe them. A culture of disbelief exists around this issue. For this reason, we describe it as a problem which is ‘hidden in plain sight’.
  • There is a systemic failure by public authorities to recognise the extent and impact of harassment and abuse of disabled people, take action to prevent it happening in the first place and intervene effectively when it does. These organisational failings need to be addressed as a matter of urgency and the full report makes a number of recommendations aimed at helping agencies to do so.
  • Any serious attempt to prevent the harassment of disabled people will need to consider more than organisational change, although that will be an important precondition to progress. The bigger challenge is to transform the way disabled people are viewed, valued and included in society.

2 comments


  1. Tim says:

    Thanks for blogging about this, Adam.

    Readers of this blog will know how some of the press distort and misrepresent facts to suit an anti-human rights agenda. Unfortunately they do exactly the same thing to disabled people on welfare. The result is that people become more suspicious and resentful of disabled people in general.

    And like with attacks on Human Rights, the government is culpable. They say that they will look after the ‘most vulnerable,’ but notice how they never define it, how they never say who qualifies. The fact is that disabled people are being targeted with cut after cut while being played off against this mythical ‘most vulnerable’ group. The government is happy for the press to print their anti-disabled people dross because it suits their cutting agenda.

  2. Stephen says:

    This is an appalling state of affairs. Channel 4 News did a feature on this last night – people in wheelchairs being abused, having beer tipped over them, being thumped, etc. How nasty can one get? And where are the authorities? For all their over-the-top PC advocacy they allow disabled people to be bullied and harrassed.

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