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Suffolk: Hate crimes against the disabled up 60%

PUBLISHED: 12:00 05 November 2010

Linda Hoggarth, of Optua.

Linda Hoggarth, of Optua.

Archant

THE number of crimes committed against disabled people in Suffolk has risen by 60% in the past 12 months, it can be revealed.

In light of the revelations, support workers have encouraged more victims to come forward as they believe that many disabled hate crimes go unreported.

The findings have been obtained by the East Anglian Daily Times following a Freedom of Information Request.

It revealed that during 2008/09 a total of 86 disabled hate crimes were committed in the county and in 2009/10 the figure rose to 138.

A spokeswoman for the Suffolk Hate Crime Service said it is anticipated that the current year’s figures will be much higher.

A number of local organisations have joined forces to tackle the problem including the Hate Crime Service, Suffolk Police and Suffolk County Council.

Linda Hoggarth, chairman of Suffolk disability support charity Optua which is also tackling the issue, said: “Our aim is to enable around 30 people with learning disabilities across Suffolk to become Respect Champions so that they can raise awareness of disablist hate crime among other people with learning disabilities across the county.

“There are a series of Respect Champions Courses running in Suffolk and we have provided a member of staff to help support these.

“The courses have been facilitated by Suffolk Acre and so far they are going very well. We’ve had some very positive feedback from our member of staff who has been involved.

“This is very important because disablist hate crime has historically been under-reported and the idea is to encourage people with learning disabilities to feel more confident about reporting hate crime.

“A longer-term aim is to have initiatives to raise awareness of hate crime among people with any disability.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police added: “As a service we are aware that disability hate crime is currently under- reported. Through engagement with voluntary and statutory agencies we aim to develop an increased awareness of these issues and inform individuals how they can report hate crimes.”

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