WEST Mercia Police has launched a new campaign aimed at tackling disability hate crime across Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
The ‘We’re All Human’ awareness scheme was created by force Insp Ed Hancox and made a big impact when trailed in Shropshire and Telford last year. It is now being adopted throughout the rest of the West Mercia area.
Paralympic gold medallist Josie Pearson is fronting the campaign and follows Shropshire’s Mickey Bushell who helped pilot the scheme last year as the star of a poster displayed on Arriva buses.
It aims to increase awareness of Disability Hate Crime, which is one of the most under-reported criminal offences, and to encourage victims to come forward.
The posters are being displayed on more than 50 First Midland buses operating across both counties during the next 12 months.
During 2013/14, 54 hate crimes against disabled people were reported to West Mercia Police with the majority concerning people with physical disabilities.
But Ann Shaw, Equality and Diversity Advisor to Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, said the reports are just the tip of the iceberg.
“Hate Crime against disabled people is under-reported,” she said. “For example, we know from research carried out by the charity Mencap, that nine out of 10 people with learning disabilities have experienced some form of Hate Crime in the past 12 months.”
“The ‘We’re All Human’ campaign will help raise awareness and West Mercia Police urges anyone who experiences or witnesses a Hate Crime, to get in touch by calling 101 or to use the online reporting system at www.report-it.org.uk .”
Josie, who won gold in the discus at the 2012 London Olympic Games, was just 17 when a car crash killed her boyfriend and left her paralysed from the chest down and has been a victim of hate crime in the past.
“No-one should have to suffer such cruel and hateful behaviour, whether able-bodied or disabled, whatever their personal circumstances. If you are being victimised, do contact the police by calling 101.
“I firmly believe in the ‘We’re All Human’ campaign and I’m only too pleased to lend my support.”
The campaign has been funded by West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner Bill Longmore.
Campaign organiser Inspector Hancox added: “Hate Crime has been recognised in law for over 10 years and much progress has been made to support victims, tackle the causes and bring perpetrators to justice.
“However, there is still much progress to be made but ‘We’re All Human’, backed by Josie Pearson and Mickey Bushell, will help enormously.
“They will lift the campaign’s profile encouraging people to report Disability Hate Crime, reduce incidents on public transport and enable bus drivers to be part of the reporting mechanism.”