Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson has spoken about the challenges of disability hate crimes being under-reported.
He spoke on Friday 18 October at the launch of a disability hate crime project being run by Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM) right. (Photo: Richard Wintle of Calyx)
The charity works with people with learning disabilities and people with high functioning autistic spectrum conditions.
Through the Police and Crime Commissioner £1 million Innovation Fund, SAM has been commissioned to run the project and has been awarded £25,598.
At the launch event, held during national Hate Crime Awareness Week, Mr Macpherson said that in Wiltshire and Swindon this year from 1 April only 20 disability hate crimes have been reported. For the previous 12 months 58 disability hate crimes were recorded.
Mr Macpherson said: “We know that one of the biggest challenges is the under-reporting of hate crime. The police encourage the reporting of hate crime and want to see these figures increase. If the police are aware these incidents are taking place then they can do something about them.
“Increasing the conviction rate for hate crime will increase public confidence within the police and the wider criminal justice system. This in turn will lead to more victims reporting hate incidents and hate crimes to the police.”
The Commissioner also spoke about the Mencap Stand by Me campaign to end disability hate crime. He and Wiltshire Police have signed up to the campaign.
Charity Mencap is working with a number of organisations to help people understand more about hate crime and how to stop it. They report that as many as nine out of ten people with a learning disability have been a victim of crime or bullying.
Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM) will use the Innovation Fund grant to support people with learning disabilities who have been the victims of crime as well as provide training so people with learning difficulties are less vulnerable to those who may attempt to take advantage of them. One of the aims is to help give people with learning disabilities more confidence, especially around reporting any instances of disability hate crime.
At the event disability hate crime ambassador Martin Kelly, who is heading up the project, also spoke. Other guests included Swindon MPs and SAM members.
The deadline for applications for the second round of the PCC’s Innovation Fund is 15 November 2013. More information is on www.wiltshire-pcc.gov.uk