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Disability hate crime campaign launched

Published: Mon, 22 Sep 2014
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The campaign is to raise awareness and reporting of disability hate crime
Disability Campaign Leonard Cheshire
Justice Minister, David Ford and Leonard Cheshire Disability NI Launch ‘Get Support to Report’ Campaign.
Justice Minister David Ford and Leonard Cheshire Disability Director, Tonya McCormac have unveiled one of a number of billboards located throughout the province. The campaign is to raise awareness and reporting of disability hate crime in Northern Ireland, highlighting that it is not just the responsibility of the victim to report a hate crime across Northern Ireland. The Housing Executive is pleased to part fund the Leonard Cheshire Disability Advocacy Scheme.
Justice Minister David Ford said: “By its very nature, hate crime is repugnant to every right thinking person.  Hate crime is carried out by bullies who target people they wish to intimidate.  Directing hate crimes at people who may be vulnerable due to having a disability must be condemned without equivocation.
“Leonard Cheshire Disability is to be commended for this campaign which provides support for disabled people to ensure their voices are heard and the crimes committed against them highlighted.  That’s why I’m pleased to be able to offer some funding towards this thought-provoking campaign.  On many occasions, when details about hate crimes have been publicised we have seen members of the community come forward to offer condemnation, and importantly, support to the victims.  I am confident this support shows there is no place for hate crime, whatever form it takes, in Northern Ireland society.”
Tonya McCormac, the Leonard Cheshire Disability Director, said:
“We are launching this campaign to encourage everyone to recognise disability hate crime and for victims and witnesses to come forward and report these incidents.  We started our Disability Hate Crime Advocacy Service, the first of its kind in the UK, as a response to major concerns expressed to us by disabled people.
“Despite an estimated 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland having a disability, the reporting of disability hate crime remains alarmingly low.  Many victims’ fail to report such crimes for a number of reasons which include; communication barriers, access issues, fear, and previous poor experiences.  While victims have become reluctant to report such crime, society has become reluctant to notice.  If victims and witnesses of disability hate crime don’t report or notice the issue, victims will continue to suffer in silence.”
Barriers faced by victims of disability hate crime can be seen in a short film produced by Leonard Cheshire Disability in which two victims tell their story and how they benefited from the advocacy service.  One of the victims, Michael Bailey, was very happy to receive the support of the advocacy service, and said:
“These are people you know are going to help you.  They are genuine and there for you.”
If you are a victim, a witness, or even if you are not sure, contact us today on 028 9066 1281 and Get Support to Report!