The Equality and Human Rights Commission announced this week that it is launching an investigation into whether public bodies and public transport providers are fulfilling their legal obligations to prevent disabled people from being harassed.

Councils, police forces, schools and other public bodies as well as bus, train companies and other public transport providers found to be failing in their duties could face enforcement action.

Evidence already gathered by the Commission suggests that many more incidents of targeted violence or hostility go unreported or are not dealt with properly by social housing bodies, social services teams, crime prevention units, public transport and other public bodies in Britain.

The Inquiry is examining how victims of disability-related harassment, which includes name-calling, intimidation, bullying or violence, have been supported by public bodies and public transport providers. It is also looking at what prevention measures bodies such as the police, social services, schools, or bus companies have put in place in England, Scotland and Wales.

Members of the public are being asked if they sought help from any public body or transport provider and what support they got, either as a result of being harassed because of their disability or because of their connection to someone who is disabled.

The Commission is working with organisations of and for disabled people or crime victims to help gather evidence. Public bodies and transport providers are being asked to disclose what steps – if any – they are taking to meet their legal duties.

At the end of the Inquiry, councils, the police, schools, social housing and other public bodies, bus and train companies found not to be doing enough to tackle the problem and to protect the human rights of disabled people could face legal action to force them to comply with their legal obligations.

The first wave of evidence will be collected until Friday 10 September 2010.