Herts Police and CPS launch new initiative to tackle disability hate crime
PUBLISHED: 15:07 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010
HERTS Police joined forces with local organisations and the CPS this week to raise awareness of disability hate crime. Hertfordshire CPS Chief Crown Prosecutor David Robinson, who spoke at the event in Hatfield said: Anyone at the conference would have b
HERTS Police joined forces with local organisations and the CPS this week to raise awareness of disability hate crime.
Hertfordshire CPS Chief Crown Prosecutor David Robinson, who spoke at the event in Hatfield said: "Anyone at the conference would have been moved by the experiences described by many victims of disability hate crime who have in the past suffered in silence or not been well served by the criminal justice system.
"The conference brought together many different organisations all of whom can play a role in stopping or responding to disability hate crime. There was clearly a real will amongst delegates to do something and the hard work starts now as we look for ways to work together to ensure that every agency is doing its part."
"We know that there are many people living with abuse and harassment on a daily basis because of their disability. This was shown most recently in the tragic Fiona Pilkington case.
"Reports are not made to the police because people don't know that bullying behaviour is almost always a criminal offence, or they are not confident that their problems will be taken seriously.
"That is totally unacceptable and we must improve at supporting the specific needs of disabled victims and witnesses who are entitled to receive justice like anyone else.
"We have to start right at the beginning and publicly define what disability hate crime is if we are to encourage more victims to come forward."
The conference publicised CPS and police policies on reporting and prosecuting disability hate crime and supporting vulnerable victims and witnesses at court. Amongst the speakers at the conference were disabled people from Hertfordshire, who shared their experiences of hate crime.
Inspector Ian Tycer, Hertfordshire Constabulary's hate crime champion said:
"I was delighted by the energy and enthusiasm at the conference. The event confirmed to all present that there is much work to do in responding to this totally unacceptable behaviour. It was an excellent opportunity to remind everyone that we all have a part to play in identifying and challenging disability hate crime.
"Each reported hate crime is an opportunity to bring a perpetrator to justice, prevent future re-offending, improve agency responses to hate crime and inspire victim's confidence.
"I am keen to increase community confidence and am taking this opportunity to launch the Home Office-sponsored True Vision Learning Disability Hate Crime self-reporting forms. By distributing these forms across the county I hope to encourage more people to come forward and tell us of their experiences."
Conference speaker David Chrimes is a local barrister employed by the CPS who is himself disabled. He said: "The CPS wanted to send out a strong message to those suffering from abuse: we are ready and primed to prosecute cases of disability hate crime.
"We have specially trained staff who can support you through the court process and make special arrangements for you to give evidence.
"And to those who torment and abuse vulnerable people, we want you to be aware that we will take these cases seriously and sentences will be tougher."
The conference is the start of a programme of work the CPS will undertake to learn from people living with disabilities about their experiences of hate crime. The ultimate aim is to improve the support and service provided and to see more successful prosecutions of disability hate crime.