Conquering disability hate crime in Southend
20th February 2013
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The interactive conference hosted by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, South Essex Homes and Essex Police, was overwhelmingly positively received by service users.

Guest speaker, Daniel Biddle, survivor of the 7/7 bombings in London described his personal experience as a person who acquired his disability through hate crime. He joined South Essex Homes in launching the film ‘Equal Voices’ in which Southend residents shared experiences and thoughts about living in the face of prejudice and ignorance.

The Hub Drama Group presented a thought provoking dramatic interpretation of hate crime, and a slogan competition was also held. The winning one - ‘Don’t support it, report it!’ - will become the strapline for disability hate crime work in Southend.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Executive Councillor for Adult Social Care, Health and Housing, Councillor Lesley Salter said: “I am very pleased that the Council is working with Southend Mencap, Essex Police, South Essex Homes and the Southend Association for Voluntary Services to support victims of hate crime. "I would urge anyone who is suffering from this appalling form of abuse to seek help immediately so that we can give them the support they need. “Sadly, hate crime and abuse against people with learning disabilities - as well as other disabilities - is far too common a problem. “People need confidence and support to be able to deal with the abuse against them. All too often they see the abuse directed towards them as part of their daily lives.

To try to stop hate crime, the Council, Southend Mencap, Southend Association of Voluntary Services, South Essex Homes and Essex Police are working together and are surveying people with a learning disability to measure their experiences of hate crime within the last year. The results of the survey will support all future work of the partnership.

Joe Dorado, President of Southend Mencap, said: "Hate crime cannot be dealt with by one organisation. The seriousness of this issue is such that it requires multi-agency and community commitment."

Katharine Washbrook, Be Safer Project Partnership Support Officer for South & Mid Essex, said: "Many people with a learning disability tolerate anti-social treatment that others wouldn't put up with. "We need to work together to start to change this, which is why the Be Safer Project is pleased to be working with our partners in south east Essex to make a positive difference in the community for people with a learning disability."

Southend Police Hate Crime Liaison Officer, PC Emma Makey, said: "Essex Police needs to work closely with its partners to ensure that all hate crime victims receive a good quality service and the support they require to ensure their long term safety. "Disability hate crime is very much under reported. Working with other organisations is definitely a positive step forward in terms of increasing awareness of the issue and public confidence in reporting such crimes."

All the partners combine in giving the following advice: If you see someone with a disability being abused either verbally or physically, please don't walk away.

People need your support at that moment in time to stop the current abuse. Don't put yourself at risk, but please find out their name, where they live and whether they have a contact telephone number you can call.

Call Essex Police on 101 to report it. ‘Don’t Support It, Report It!’

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Claire T

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