The statistics, released by the Crown Prosecution Service, show that 4,000 cases have been brought since 2007 when the offence was introduced.Cases have involved verbal abuse, kicking a guide dog, setting fire to a wheelchair or attacks on cars displaying the blue badge that allows those with mobility problems to park near their destination.

The devastating impact of the crime was highlighted in 2009 when Fiona Pilkington, 38, of Barwell, Leicestershire, killed herself and her 18-year-old disabled daughter Francesca after being targeted by yobs. Their bodies were found in a burnt-out car.

As a result the Sunday Express ran a successful crusade calling for a law that would force councils and police to act if there were 10 complaints about anti-social behaviour.

Last year 574 disability hate crime cases were recorded, compared with 183 in 2007/8. However, Stephen Brookes, of the UK Disability Hate Crime Network and Disability Rights charity, said the figures were probably much higher.He said: “I believe the number of people actually suffering is equivalent to the number who report religious and race hate crime each year – 60,000.”

Former director of public prosecutions Ken MacDonald last year said the police and CPS regularly overlook the crime despite “lots and lots of cases involving disabled people being abused, injured, or murdered”.

A CPS spokesman said last night the body launched a Disability Hate Crime Action Plan in 2014 to tackle the issue.