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Avon and Somerset sign-up to "Stand by" people with a learning disability

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Mencap - The voice of learning disability

Avon and Somerset Constabulary have signed up to Mencap’s ‘Stand by me’ police promise to show their commitment to ending hate crime against people with a learning disability.

Mencap launched the ‘Stand by me’ campaign during Learning Disability Week 2010 and calls on police services to commit to a police promise that will help make sure disabled people can live their lives free from the fear of crime.

Although the police have only just formally signed-up to “Stand by” we have been actively supporting the initiative since the summer of 2011.

During the Learning Disabilities Week in June that year an information stand was set up at the Sovereign Shopping Centre in Weston-super-Mare, which was supported by various agencies, including the police.

We have already put into place various actions including the Safe Places Scheme, which helps vulnerable adults with learning impairments  (which will expand to other groups) deal with any situation that makes them feel scared, at risk or confused whilst they are out and about in the community.

This could be anything from being lost to losing a mobile phone or being harassed or bullied.

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “We have some fantastic hate crime charities and dedicated officers working with victims of hate crime. However it is essential that people who have experienced hate crime, come forward and report it.

“Hate crime must be tackled and that is why I have helped fund groups such as the South Gloucestershire Disability Equality Network. Groups like this not only help to raise awareness of disability-related hate crime but increases confidence of disabled victims in reporting to the police.

“Together we can ensure that offenders of any crime, but in particular motived by prejudice or hate, know that it will not be tolerated in Avon and Somerset and perpetrators will have to suffer the consequences.”

Ali Bazley, Regional Co-ordinator (South West) for Headway, which helps to raise the profile of and improve the services for people with brain injury and is a member of the Avon and Somerset Disability Independent Advisory Group (DIAG) said: “The  Avon and Somerset DIAG is delighted  that Avon and Somerset Police has signed up to Mencap’s Stand By Me campaign.

“The Group represents all disabilities and works with the service, highlighting issues and concerns faced by people with a disability giving advice, information and signposting to support services.

“There are people who think that it is okay to exploit, harass and belittle people with learning difficulties. Campaigns like this are vital in promoting awareness to the general public and disabled people what this kind of bullying is unacceptable and will be treated as an offence,” said Ali.

Dan Scorer, Mencap’s senior campaigns manager, said: “Many police services are doing good work, and their response is getting better. Other services are still failing to support victims of disability hate crime. Through the ‘Stand by me campaign’ we want to make sure that all police services are following the example set by the best services. We welcome Avon and Somerset Constabulary's commitment to constantly strive to uphold these standards and help end disability hate crime in a generation.”

Posted on Tuesday 8th July 2014
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