A mum whose disabled daughter was the victim of bullying has backed a new film launched to encourage people to report hate crimes.
Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger launched the 15-minute film as a training tool to show the true impact of crimes against disabled people, which aims to address the levels of under-reporting across Teesside.
Kay Demoily, of Acklam, Middlesbrough, helped her daughter Katy, who has Down’s syndrome, through her difficulties with bullying at school and college and welcomes the efforts of police.
“It is very important that people are made aware of the amount of bullying that goes on. Young people especially are vulnerable and might not be able to stand up for themselves, so it is vital that others look out for bullying, which is so much more common than people think.”
Last year there were only 23 reports of disability hate crime incidents – but police and support charities believe victims are not coming forward, due to fear or because they are unaware that bullying is classed as a hate crime.
Kay says that Katy, now 32, who enjoys photography as a hobby, has managed to move on since the bullying with support from family, friends and the local community.
She said: “Everyone who lives close by is very helpful, and would keep an eye out while Katy is around here but you can’t always know what goes on.
“Katy became very introverted and upset. I thought that I would have seen the signs but I didn’t. The film that the police have produced is hard hitting, and I think it should be shown in schools so that young people understand the issues.”
Mr Coppinger said: “Cleveland is not unique in the fact that disability hate crime is under-reported but as a force we are dealing with it head-on by raising awareness of ways in which to report the crime and enhance our training to officers and staff. Incidents can take the form of name calling in the street, serious assaults, and deliberate deception of vulnerable people with disabilities. These are completely unacceptable and it’s important that officers can identify where a crime has a disability hate element and how to raise awareness of reporting with victims, carers and families.”
The short film has taken months of planning and features real life stories brought to life by IMPACT Drama Group, part of Middlesbrough Community Inclusion Service, who directed the film and featured in the case studies.
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 17 May 2014