Cyber-Disability Hate Cases in the UK: The Documentation by the Police and Potential Barriers to Reporting

Zhraa A. Alhaboby*, Haider Al-Khateeb, James Barnes, Hamid Jahankhani, Melanie Pitchford, Liesl Conradie, Emma Short

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


Disability hate crime is under-reported in the UK with perceived limited 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 especially 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 carried out on disability-related cyber incidents documented by a police force in the UK for 19 months. Among 3,349 cyber-crimes, 23 cases were included. The analysis covered descriptive statistics and qualitative document analysis (QDA). Only 0.7% of cyber incidents or 6.7% of cyber-hate incidents were disability related. The age of victims ranged between 15 and 61 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 data as influencers of reporting or documentation, these were: psychological impact, fear for safety, and the type of disability. Cyber-offences resulted in a serious impact on wellbeing, however, cases that included people with visible disabilities were 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 reporting and documentation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCybersecurity, Privacy and Freedom Protection in the Connected World
EditorsHamid Jahankhani, Arshad Jamal, Shaun Lawson
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-68534-8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 May 2021
EventProceedings of the 13th International Conference on Global Security, Safety and Sustainability. - London, UK, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 14 Jan 202115 Jan 2021

Publication series

NameAdvanced Sciences and Technologies for Security Applications book series (ASTSA)
PublisherSpringer Nature
ISSN (Print)1613-5113
ISSN (Electronic)2363-9466


ConferenceProceedings of the 13th International Conference on Global Security, Safety and Sustainability.
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This publication was partially supported by the Police Innovation Fund 2016/17 from the Home Office, UK. It aims to advance incident response against cyberharrasment. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of funder.


  • Incident response
  • Law enforcement
  • Online hate crime
  • Disabled people
  • Justice
  • Law


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