Yesterday afternoon I was at a forum to discuss responses to the Law Commission’s consultation on increasing hate crime sentences. I was there primarily with my sexual orientation ‘hat’ on (I’m a volunteer advisor at Kent Police’s sexual diversity forum), but the disability element was interesting (and had more stats!):
- Although a reported 2 per cent of the female population have some type of mental health problem, when we look at the female prisoner population, this percentage shoots up to 72 per cent;
- 20-30 per cent of prisoners have a learning disability;
- Dyslexia is 3-4 times more common among prisoners than the general population;
- Prisoners with learning difficulties or learning disabilities are 5 times more likely to be subject to restraint and 3 times as likely to have spent time in segregation.
Quite a lot for our police and probation trust members to consider! The proposals are interesting for us for other reasons as well. One of the elements that the Law Commission is looking at is the definition of ‘disability’. Currently, under the Criminal Justice Act, the definition is just “any physical or mental impairment”. There was also a lot of good discussion over the identity of a disabled person and the automatic label/stereotype of ‘vulnerable’ that people often ascribe to disabled people.