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Backing for hate crime victims
7:00pm Tuesday 22nd October 2013 in News
A project has been started to support disabled victims of hate crime and encourage them to speak out.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon Angus Macpherson spoke at the launch of the programme, being run by Swindon Advocacy Movement (SAM).
The charity works with people with learning disabilities and people with high-functioning autistic spectrum conditions.
SAM has been commissioned to run the project, backed by the PCC’s £1 million Innovation Fund.
The organisation will use a £25,598 grant to support people with learning disabilities who have been the victims of crime, as well as provide training to make people less vulnerable to attempts to take advantage of them.
At the event, held during national Hate Crime Awareness Week, Mr Macpherson said 20 disability hate crimes have been reported in Wiltshire and Swindon since April 1, down from 58 crimes were recorded by police in the previous 12 months.
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 in the police and the wider criminal justice system. This in turn will lead to more victims reporting hate incidents.”
Disability hate crime ambassador Martin Kelly, who is heading the project, said: “This is a vitally important project and we are grateful that the PCC and the rest of the Innovation Fund selection panel have seen the value in what we want to do.
“Last year there were 30 disability hate crimes recorded across Wiltshire, but many of us who work with people who have disabilities believe the true figure is much higher than the records show.
“I hope to work closely with disabled people who have been the victims of crime, whether they reported it or not, as well as with the Crown Prosecution Service, police officers and others involved to try and improve things for these vulnerable people.”
The applications deadline for round two of the Innovation Fund is November 15. Visit www.wiltshire-pcc.gov.uk.
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