More than 100 people with disabilities were encouraged to tell police when they are being abused when they attended two specially arranged training days during Hate Crime Week.
In the first training course of its kind at the Sutton Life Centre, people with disabilities were presented with abuse scenarios on a bus, in the street and at home – all locations where they may be targeted because of their disability.
The examples included bus passengers refusing to give them access to the priority space on the lower-deck, being subject to threatening name calling in the street and being taken advantage of in their home by repeatedly being asked to pay for take-away food by people who call round.
During the training, people with disabilities were encouraged to tell a trusted adult, such as a parent, carer, guardian or care worker and to contact police – on 999 if they fear for their safety or on the 101 police non-emergency number.
They were told to report all incidents of abuse so police have a record of the incident and can build a picture of what’s happening so police can direct their officers to put a stop to it.
The training was organised by Sutton Council and the Met Police with the support of trainers from Sutton Mencap, Orchard Hill College and local Safer Transport Team police officers. Victim Support also assisted throughout the two days of training.
The people with disabilities were invited from Sutton Mencap, Orchard Hill College, Carshalton College and Cheam High School.
Introducing the training sessions, Council Leader Ruth Dombey said this was all about the Council, Police and other organisations working together to make sure that all the citizens of our borough feel welcome and safe. She told the people with disabilities: “You will be given help and advice how to best deal with situations.”
Police Borough Commander Dave Stringer said: “Our police officers are here today to support you and to give you our advice and to encourage you to report if you feel you have been a victim of crime.”
Olivia Griffin, who was one of the trainers for Sutton Mencap, said: “It is so important to tell someone you trust if you have been abused, even if it is name calling, as this targeting needs to stop. It is also important that everyone, including parents and carers realise the police want to know about this, however small you think it may be. It is not something we should just accept.”
Victim Support’s Anton Morgan-Thorne, Enhanced Service Delivery Manager, South London, said: “This has been a fantastic opportunity to work with partners in Sutton to enhance the understanding of hate crime.”