Mate crime is a much unreported crime that most people will never have heard of. Vulnerable people, often with learning difficulties, are befriended and then abused by their ‘new’ friends physically, mentally or financially. The victim, often lonely and isolated, may be reluctant and confused about reporting abusive behaviour from someone whose friendship they do not want to lose.
Sadly, it’s often the carers that can abuse people and the case at Winterbourne View, near Bristol, is an example of this.
Mate crime is often not picked up either by adult safeguarding services or by the criminal justice system. While progress has been made in recent years in tackling mate crime against learning disabled people, it is patchy and generally slow.
At a recent conference in Nottingham, (Best friends forever? Tackling ‘mate crime’ against people with learning disabilities) Warwickshire County Council’s Community Safety Project Officers discussed and explored ways to address this crime.
Speakers included some of the UK’s leading experts on mate crime including Dr Margaret Flynn (Chair of the Serious Case Review into Steven Hoskin’s death), Mick Conboy (Disability Hate Crime Co-ordinator, CPS), Rod Landman (Manager of ARC UK’s ground-breaking Devon project), and Paul Giannasi (ACPO Lead on Disability and Mental Health).
Multiple changes are needed: a clear definition of disability hate crime, recognition by support services of risk factors in relationships, innovative methods of encouraging learning disabled people to report hate crime, options for third party reporting, support for learning disabled witnesses, and a stronger focus on probation support for offenders who perpetrate hate crime. Strong leadership on this issue is essential.
Part of the wider work of the Community Safety Project Officers is to address and raise awareness of mate crime.
For more information, contact your local Community Safety Project Officer on 02476 483163 (Nuneaton and Bedworth and North Warwickshire), 01788 533817 (Rugby) or 01926 412433 / 412261 (Stratford and Warwick Districts), visit Community Safety Partnerships in Warwickshire or email email@example.com