I was assigned to the case of a disabled family who were subjected to harassment and verbal abuse from their neighbours for a number of years.
We found often find victims of hate crime do not feel confident in reporting continued abuse.
This family, who all have disabilities, were reluctant and scared, but a family member came forward to Bedfordshire Police on their behalf.
I took the first step to meet them in a comfortable environment and provide encouragement and support to all who had been affected, taking into consideration their specific needs. This helped them to speak out and increase their trust in the police.
They told me how they had been prevented from carrying out their daily routine and how isolated they felt, anxious to leave their home, in fear of what their neighbours might do.
It soon became apparent this family were being targeted and subjected to abuse simply because they were disabled. Those involved with the harassment even stopped the family accessing their car by blocking their disabled parking spot.
I referred the case to Luton’s Priority Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Team, in order to explore what actions could be taken to improve the circumstances for the family. Case worker Laura Chalmers became involved and started to look at longer-term problem solving for the family, whilst the investigation was on-going.
The proactive policing and partnership work involved within this case changed the lives of the victims in a very positive way. Working in partnership with the Priority ASB team was very effective in ensuring the victim and their family were properly supported. Several agencies have now been involved in offering the required support including MIND, the Priority ASB team’s Victim and Witness Champion and PowHer Advocacy Service. I also completed a vulnerable adult form and as a result the victim received a Social Worker.
Although the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to take this case forward, the impact that reporting this disability hate crime had on those involved was invaluable. The victim’s family said they are: “Overwhelmed by the support they are receiving and was pleased that something good could happen from a bad situation.”
If this disability hate crime had gone unreported the family would still be suffering in silence.
PC Ryan Chandhar talks about his experience in dealing with disability hate crime in the run up to Disability Awareness Day on Sunday 16 July, to try and encourage people to have the confidence to come forward and report such crimes. It’s never acceptable to abuse someone for being who they are.