Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson visited a Swindon charity which aims to help empower people with learning disabilities on Tuesday 26 March.
Mr Macpherson spoke with members of Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM) who have learning difficulties, including some who have campaigned about hate crime, about their perceptions and experiences in relation to hate crime.
The Commissioner’s visit came after Wiltshire Police supported a national drive to increase reporting of hate crime by running an awareness campaign to encourage victims and witnesses to come forward.
The ‘Challenge it, Report it, Stop it!’ campaign is part of the government’s action plan and blueprint to tackle the problem.
Mr Macpherson said: "I was able to met some of the staff and advocates at SAM before I was elected as Commissioner. I came back to SAM to speak to those with learning difficulties and advocates about how they feel victims of hate crime are supported by public agencies and other organisations in Swindon.
"I fully support Wiltshire Police’s efforts to increase reporting of hate crime and, with partner agencies, to give appropriate support to victims and witnesses. It can be very distressing to be a victim of this sort of crime, especially for those who experience it on a regular basis, and they shouldn’t have to tolerate it."
SAM’s aim is to provide an independent accessible advocacy service to speak up for and empower people with learning disability in Swindon by:
empowering people with learning disabilities to speak up for their rights to gain access to services and help they need
enabling people with learning disabilities to gain skills and confidence so that they can lead the lives that they want
helping to make people feel wanted and included in the community.
SAM has a management committee made up of eight people with a learning disability and five people without. The charity also campaigns for positive change in local services while raising awareness of the needs and issues facing people with learning disabilities.
SAM Manager Dawn Dixon said: "Hate crime is a subject which is often raised with us and it can have a real and devastating impact on victims.
"We fully support any efforts to raise awareness of hate crime, especially encouraging people to report incidents to the police and to seek any support they need."
Hate crimes take many forms and can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, physically and emotionally. The central cause is hostility, prejudice or hatred based on a person’s gender, disability, race, religion or sexual orientation.
This intolerance can manifest itself in bullying, hate mail, graffiti, vandalism, threats of violence or physical assault.
If you think you’ve been affected by hate crime, you can report it to Wiltshire Police in person, to a police officer or PCSO on the street, or at a police Enquiry Office, via 999 if you think it’s an emergency or through the 101 non-emergency police number.
You can also email the police via www.wiltshire.police.uk to access the range of contact options. All information received is treated confidentially.
Or write to Mr MacPherson, PCC Wiltshire Police, Devizes