Published figures that put Herts at the top of a national poll for incidents of disability hate crime are incorrect, say police.
According to the statistics, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and last week published on a national newspaper website, there were 169 attacks in the county during last year – well up on the 24 incidents recorded in 2010.
But police chiefs have been quick to dismiss the alarming figures.
Herts Constabulary spokesman Nicola Lawrence said: “Unfortunately due to an internal crime recording process, these figures are not correct and in actual fact, the constabulary had only 22 disability hate crimes recorded in the community during 2011.
“When a member of the public calls into the force communications room to report a crime, they are asked a number of questions to determine if they are a more vulnerable person who may need extra attention and care, for example if they have a disability.
“The figure of 169 actually reflects the number of crimes recorded by the constabulary during 2011 where the reporting person has a disability. Of these 169 crimes, 22 of the callers either believe, or there is evidence to suggest, the crime was motivated because of the victim’s disability.”
Elaine Precious from Dacorum Mencap said: “Disability hate crime is a real and frequent issue for service users, certainly for people with learning disabilities, with taunts, insults and harassment affecting nearly all our members at some stage.”
Herts Constabulary has specially trained officers to deal with hate crime and offer support to victims. Incidents can be reported by calling 101 or via the force website www.herts.police.uk but always dial 999 in an emergency.