Disability, Crime and Hate Crime in the News

Our report into how Disabled victims of crime are portrayed in the news shows there is still work to do to root out the disablist ideas deeply embedded in society.

A man holding an Easy Read document
Click here for Easy Read (Opens in new page)


Crime, Disability, and Media

Disability hate crime happens more often than many people realise. Disabled people are also disproportionately affected by crime in general, and this often comes as a surprise to people, too. There can be this assumption that few people would harm or commit crimes against Disabled people.

We know the media can influence people’s perceptions of others. The Disabled community experienced the consequences of the media portraying Disabled people on benefits as ‘scroungers’; there was an obvious increase in hostility against Disabled people with the increase in articles and Disabled people became the target of people’s anger over austerity.


Portrayals of Disabled Victims

As part of our work on hate crime, Inclusion London set out to explore the portrayals of Disabled victims in news reports on these crimes.

We reviewed the news coverage of 300 crimes against Disabled people reported throughout the United Kingdom and gathered details on:

  • The crime and outcomes
  • Whether any of the reports highlighted or discussed the case as a disability hate crime
  • The media coverage and how any Disabled people involved or their impairments and/or conditions were written about


What we found

While there were improvements over the years, even in 2022 we still found many stories contained disablist concepts and portrayals, including:

  • Victim blaming
  • Empathy for the perpetrator instead of the victim
  • The victim being a footnote in their own story
  • Disablist language
  • Portrayals of Disabled people as ‘burdens’


Our full report, which also includes recommendations for how journalists and other people writing about Disabled victims of victim could avoid disablist language and portrayals, is below.

There are parts of the report that people could find upsetting or difficult to read, please check the content warning at the beginning for more information.


Standard Read

Disability, Crime and Hate Crime in the Media Report (Word)

Disability, Crime and Hate Crime in the Media Report (PDF)


Easy Read

Click here to go to the Easy Read reports




Burch, L. (2022). Understanding Disability and Everyday Hate

Targeted: The Truth about Disability Hate Crime (2020). BBC Two.

Inclusion London (2020). ‘Still Getting Away with Murder’ – https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/FINAL-Still-Getting-Away-with-Murder-Sept-2020-FINAL.pdf

Ullah, R., Khan, A. (2020). The Role of Mass Media in Shaping Public Opinion https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343392876_The_Role_of_Mass_Media_in_Shaping_Public_Opinion

Ryan, F. (2019). Crippled: Austerity and the Demonization of Disabled People.

Quarmby, K. (2013). Scapegoat: Why we are Failing Disabled People.