People with learning disabilities who suffer hate crime, can now get support thanks to a new national helpline launched in Leeds.
The helpline, run by Stop Hate UK, will focus on supporting people with learning disabilities who experience problems, simply because of their disability.
Problems include bullying, harassment, name calling and even physical assaults.
Stop Hate UK has launched the new 24-hour helpline service called Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime, for people in England and Wales. The new service will be funded by the Ministry of Justice Victim and Witness Fund.
Calls will be answered by specially trained staff and volunteers alongside an existing helpline, designed to encourage reporting of all hate crime including race, religion and disability.
Una Morris, of Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime, said: “Hate crime has a significant impact on victims, their families, friends, carers and on the wider community. Our experience of working with victims of this kind of hate crime tells us that some people believe that the incidents they have experienced are not serious enough to report to the police or they simply experience too many incidents to report, often on a daily basis.
“For other victims, they may not know that what they have experienced is hate crime, although they might know it is wrong, or they may be experiencing mate crime and think the perpetrators are their friends. We can support people to identify their experiences as hate or mate crime.”
She said the helpline offered a way to report, support and inform, as well as accessing support of other agencies, such as the police and housing providers.
Paul Giannasi, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said: “This helpline is a vital service. We know from the British Crime Survey that disability hate crime is under reported. This is particularly true of learning disability hate crime. Stop Hate UK’s new helpline offers victims and witnesses an opportunity to report to an independent charity with specialist knowledge of learning disabilities. The service will benefit people by increasing confidence in reporting processes and will also provide valuable statistical data on the scale of the problem.”
Contact the helpline on 0808 802 1155.