Cyber-disability hate cases in the UK: the documentation by the police and potential barriers to reporting


Disability hate crime is under-reported in the UK with perceived lim-ited support given to the victims. The use of online communication resulted in cyber-disability hate cases, recognised by the Police with the addition of an ‘online-flag’ in the documentation. However, the cases remain under-reported, with potential individual, societal and organisational barriers to reporting espe-cially during a pandemic. This paper aims to contextualise the reporting of cyber-disability hate cases, identify potential barriers, and provide recommendations to improve support to victims by the Police.The retrospective examination was car-ried out on disability-related cyber incidentsdocumented by a police force in the UK for 19 months. Among 3,349 cyber-crimes, 23 cases were included. The anal-ysis covereddescriptive statistics and qualitative document analysis (QDA). Only 0.7% of cyber incidentsor 6.7% of cyber-hate incidentswere disability re-lated. The age of victims ranged between 15 and61 years, with a mean of 25.8 years. Most of the victims (78%) were from White ethnic background, and the majority were females (61.5%). Three overarching themes emerged from the qualitative dataas influencers of reporting or documentation, these were: psy-chological impact, fear for safety, and the type of disability.Cyber-offences re-sulted in a serious impact on wellbeing, however, cases that included people with visible disabilitieswere more documented. Further awareness-raising targeting the police and public is needed to understand the impact of cyber-offences and recognise the different types of disabilities, which might encourage both report-ing and documentation



incident response, law enforcement, online hate crime, disabled people, justice, law


Alhaboby, Z. A., Al-Khateeb, H. M., Barnes, J., Jahankhani, H., Pitchford, M., Conradie, L. and Short, E. (2021) Cyber-disability hate cases in the UK: The documentation by the police and potential barriers to reporting. 13th International Conference on Global Security, Safety & Sustainability, Virtual. Advanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications, Northumbria University, UK, January 2021.


Research Institute

Institute for Psychological Science