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VS research finds people with disability at increased risk of violence

19 April 2016

Front page of VS Insight Report

Research by Victim Support (VS) reveals that people with a limiting disability or illness are almost three and a half times more likely to suffer serious violence.

Detailed VS analysis of the Crime Survey for England and Wales shows that, although violent crime has fallen by almost half (48 per cent) for the non-disabled population over the last decade, the proportion of people with a limiting disability or illness who were victims of violence over the same period has increased by 3.7 per cent. 

In stark contrast to the rest of the population, people with a limiting disability or illness are at greater risk of suffering violent crime than they were ten years ago. Indeed, having a limiting disability puts you at statistically greater risk of violence than visiting a nightclub once a week or more.

Lucy Hastings, Director for Victim Support, says:

“These findings are deeply alarming and warrant both further investigation and action.

“We recommend that further research is urgently undertaken, so that we can understand why the risk is so high and increasing, and how best to protect and support people with a limiting disability or illness.

“In the meantime, it is essential that professionals working with the disabled, including those working in health, social care and the justice system, are made aware of the increased risks to this group and know the sources of support and information available to them, should they fall victim to violence.”

The findings are published today in the VS Insight Report: ‘An easy target? : Risk factors affecting victimisation rates for violent crime and theft’.  

The Insight Report also finds that, in addition to the increased risk of suffering violence with injury, people with a limiting disability or illness are twice as likely to suffer violence without injury, 1.6 times more likely to be a victim of personal theft, and 1.4 times more likely to be a victim of household theft than adults without a limiting disability.

The report is the first in a series that will investigate the demographics of victims of crime and the risk factors affecting rates of victimisation across the population.

The reports will highlight that, while the fall in crime over recent decades is hugely welcome, there is a danger of losing sight of the victims of crime and the often devastating impact that crime still has every day in England and Wales. 

Last year (2014/15) there were approximately 1.3 million violent crimes in England and Wales. For each one of these offences there is a victim who, in many cases, is deeply emotionally, psychologically, physically or behaviourally affected – effects that can ripple out to family, friends and the wider community.

Following the publication of these findings, VS has called for further research to be undertaken to increase understanding and awareness of the issue, and protect and support people with a limiting disability or illness. 

If you have a limiting disability or illness and have experienced violent crime, sharing your story could help us to better understand why this is happening and raise awareness of the increased risk. 

If you’ve been affected by crime and need support, call our Supportline on 08 08 16 89 111 or request support online. You can also contact us for support using Next Generation Text 18001 08 08 16 89 111.

Find out more about violent crime, and how Victim Support can help you if you’ve been affected.

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