DISABILITY hate crimes – many of them violent - have shot up in the area, but the number of people charged has gone down.

West Midlands Police had 171 reports of hate crimes against disabled people in 2019/20 – a rise of nearly 30 per cent and nearly one every two days.

Of those a massive 159 – more than 9 out of every 10 – involved violence.

But out of all those reports just three people were charged – one less than the year before.

The number of reports of violence is significantly higher than the year before, up 31%, which indicates that more of the reported hate crimes now involve violence.

The one piece of good news is that online hate crime fell dramatically, by 57%, although the numbers are small, down from 21 to 9.

The figures are revealed in research carried out by the Leonard Cheshire Foundation and United Response charity for the disabled.

Chief Superintendent Mat Shaer, West Midlands Police's hate crime lead, said: "We have many diverse and multi-cultural communities across the West Midlands and any type of hate crime is completely unacceptable.

"It was an historically under-reported crime and it’s encouraging more victims are coming forward and telling us.

"We’ve tried to make it easier for communities to reach us through with third party reporting centres, getting relevant guidance and information translated into different languages and our hate crime app.

“Unfortunately in the majority of reports in the last financial year, either no suspect has been identified or the victim has not wished to pursue a prosecution or there has not been enough evidence for a charge.

“That said each case is investigated to its fullest potential and, although the number resulting in a charge is low, some have resulted in community resolutions."

Figures provided by police forces show reports of disability hate crime are up 12% across 36 regions in England and Wales in 2019/20, but only 1.6% of cases resulted in police charging the perpetrators.

More than 7,300 disability hate crimes were reported across England and Wales yet only one in 62 cases actually received a charge from the police, say the charities.

Findings were released to coincide with the start of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, on Saturday, October 10.

“Worryingly, while nearly 21 crimes were reported to the police every day in England and Wales during 2019/20, an average of 10 crimes per day involved an act of violence against a disabled person, including assault and harassment.

“As this abhorrent crime continues to rise year on year, it’s time for the authorities, Government and online platforms to start taking this damaging behaviour more seriously. Increased funding for advocacy services is also urgently needed and victims need to have better access to support across the entire reporting, investigative and judicial process. ”

Victims of disability hate crime should report it to their friends or family or call the police if it is safe to do so. They can also report it online: https://www.report-it.org.uk/your_police_force.