Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger has said he is concerned about the hidden harassment of disabled people in the area, with only 16 reports of disability hate incidents since April 2013.
He has visited a number of groups supporting disabled people in Teesside and has been told that they either accept the name calling and abuse on the streets, or fear reporting incidents. Disability hate crime is not only believed to be largely under reported in Cleveland but also across the UK.
The PCC is helping to drive work alongside the Force and partners to increase reporting and raise awareness of the hidden aspects of disability hate crime within communities. He will also put the spotlight on issues for disabled communities on Tuesday 3rd December – International Day of Disabled Persons.
Mr. Coppinger will be highlighting schemes such as the Cleveland Safe Place Scheme – where venues designate themselves as a ‘safe place’ for vulnerable people to go when they need support. Marks and Spencer is the latest retailer to join the initiative and display the safe place logo across Teesside.
He will also be meeting with victims of disability hate crime from the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “We have accomplished a great deal already, but more needs to be done. Over recent years there have been great strides towards an understanding of the effects of racial hate crime and homophobic hate crime, but we need further education around the effects of abuse on disabled people.
“I’m keen to assist this process by raising awareness of disability hate incidents, how victims and families can report crime, and that any incident – whether it is name calling, or more serious forms of harassment or abuse – will not be tolerated.
“Victims should feel encouraged and supported by the Criminal Justice Process and one of my key priorities is to improve the support available as they go through the process. This includes highlighting issues that disabled people face and how frontline staff can respond.”
Keith Craven from the Multiple Sclerosis Society said: “The intolerance of people within society regarding the disabled can be, quite frankly, unbelievable. I have received verbal abuse myself and sadly for many of the disabled community this is a relatively common occurrence which people often try to deal with themselves rather than seeking help from the agencies who can provide it. I am delighted that the Commissioner is highlighting the issue, which I hope will give people the confidence to come forward and report incidents.”
Speaking on the Safe Place Scheme sign-up, Jayne Leather, Regional Security Manager for Marks and Spencer said: “We are proud to support the scheme. Our aim is to always deliver great service to all our customers and this scheme is just that, providing support and help to anyone that needs it.”
A list of venues taking place in the scheme can be found at www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk anyone who believes they have been a victim of disability hate crime can call police on the non-emergency number 101.
Please click here to view Disability Hate Crime Case Study
Posted on Friday 29th November 2013