The number of reported cases of hate crimes against disabled people in Brighton and Hove has almost doubled.
Sussex Police said there were 33 recorded incidents in the city between April 2010 and March 2011, up from 17 the previous year.
Sgt Peter Castleton believes the increase is down to better recording by police and a campaign to encourage victims to come forward.
He said most people had been subjected to very distressing verbal attacks.
Sgt Castleton, who is part of Brighton's partnership community safety team, said: "Typically, we're talking about harassment, it's often name calling.
"Fortunately there's not a lot of physical harm reported to us but it's harassment and name calling and of course it's very, very distressing for the people involved.
"When we're talking about disability, we're not just talking about physical disability we're talking about sensory disability, we're talking about mental health impairment and learning disability as well."
He also believes it's a crime that is significantly under reported and urged anyone who a victim of hate crime to contact officers.
In March Brighton and Hove City Council's partnership community safety team launched a poster campaign and a new hate incident report form.
At the launch, councillor Dee Simson said: "Disability hate crime is often hidden and not much discussed, yet it can have devastating results.
"We are aiming to improve the reporting of such incidents and develop good practice in dealing with them."