“Hate crime report is a big step forward”

A Witney-based national charity that works to protect people against Hate Crime has welcomed a report that calls for improvements in the criminal justice system to tackle it.

“There were 1,700 Disability Hate Crimes recorded by police in England and Wales in 2011-12, and that’s probably just the tip of a nasty iceberg. This report is a big step forward in tackling the issue,” says Tim Cooper, CEO of Advance, which supports people with learning disabilities or mental health issues to live the lives they want in the community.

“Every single incident has devastating consequences and is one too many. That is why our Safety First programme, which is available to any vulnerable group or organisation that support them, is dedicated to raising awareness and empowering people.”

The joint inspectorate review into police, probation and the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales says victims of disability hate crime are being let down by the system, and progress to improve their experience of reporting offences is too slow.

The review was prompted by the case of Fiona Pilkington, who killed herself and her disabled daughter Francecca Hardwick in 2007 after repeated complaints to police about harassment.

It concludes that under reporting of disability hate crime remains a significant concern and needs to be addressed.

“This report finds that in many ways Disability Hate Crime is the hate crime that has been overlooked. The criminal justice system must therefore change to provide an improved service for those with disabilities,” said Chief Inspector of HM Crown Prosecution Service, Michael Fuller QPM, on behalf of all the inspectorates.

Advance’s Safety First provides personalised training, with role play scenarios, to all vulnerable people, including children, disabled people and the elderly, and their supporting organisations.

It covers a whole range of issues, from keeping safe in the home, to dealing with nuisance phone calls and tackling Hate Crime.

“It is a tried and tested training tool that is very effective,” says Tim, whose team is soon to be delivering the programme to two special needs schools in Oxfordshire, along with a training day for the HFTt and is in discussions with Stop Hate UK.

“The more people are aware of the issues – and have the tools to deal with them – the better, if we are to enable disabled people to feel safe in their local communities.”

Find out more

For more information on Advance, head to www.advanceuk.org

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