The policing of learning disablist hate crime
: a critical examination of perceptions, experiences and outcomes

  • Jemma Tyson

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Existing literature suggests that hate crimes are significantly underreported, have a disproportionate impact on the victim and wider communities, and that satisfaction with the police response is generally lower than for comparable non-hate crimes. However, disablist hate crime is a relatively new addition to the academic, political and policing landscape and, consequently, relatively little research that examines the experiences and perceptions of individuals with learning disabilities and the experiences and perceptions of police officers has been forthcoming.
With the intention of addressing this knowledge gap, this thesis aims to critically
examine the perceptions and experiences of policing learning disablist hate crime, using the social model of disability as a theoretical framework for understanding this particular problem. The empirical research employs a triangulatory research methodology comprising participant observations of policing practice, semistructured interviews with serving police officers, and focus groups with individuals with learning disabilities. The qualitative data derived from the research allows for the lived realities and experiences of service providers and service users to be explored. As such, the thesis examines a number of important issues relating to the extent of knowledge and understanding of disablist hate crime, the perceived levels of accessibility and opportunities for engagement between the service users and service providers, the extent of trust and confidence in policing, and the differences between the actual and desired policing outcomes pertaining to both parties.
The research findings illustrate that ‘success’ in the policing of learning disablist
hate crime is dependent upon the interaction of a number of variables but the key contribution to knowledge is the central importance of direct policing experiences and indirect policing experiences for both service users and service providers. Respectively, these refer to the knowledge gained from personal experiences and third-party sources. This is presented within a new theoretically informed roadmap of police service provision, which highlights how such experiences are crucial in determining victim status and subsequently shaping the quality of service provision to people with learning disabilities using the principles of the social model of disability.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorSarah Charman (Supervisor)

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