West Midlands to host Safeguarding and Disability Harassment Forum

10/05/2012

Key players from the public and voluntary sectors as well as from the criminal justice system from across the region will be gathering together on Monday 14 May 2012 to discuss disability related harassment at an event which is being hosted by the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) at their regional headquarters in Birmingham.

The event, which is the first of its kind to be held in the area, will bring together speakers who have been leading on this work both locally and nationally to explore some current practice and consider the most effective way in promoting clear pathways within respective organisations. It will also examine how we can develop new cross-agency working programmes to take forward consistent approaches across the region.

Harry Ireland, Chief Crown Prosecutor for West Midlands CPS, said: "Incidents of disability related harassment, violence and hate crime are particularly unacceptable, given that such actions are aimed at the most vulnerable within society and upon whom the impact of such behaviour can be far more debilitating than upon many others. We all have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in society and to ensure that disabled people and those with long term health conditions are able to live a life without fear or needless anxiety or apprehension.

"Left unmanaged, non-criminal behaviour and 'petty' crime against vulnerable victims has the potential to escalate into more extreme behaviour. The CPS is committed to effective working with our partners to deal robustly with such perpetrators and supporting victims and witnesses. We are committed to a stronger strategic direction to tackle such crimes and this event is about making it a priority with the public and voluntary sector agencies across the West Midlands region.

"I strongly believe that we have the clear commitment and drive across a range of organisations across the West Midlands to really make a positive impact to tackle disability hate crime. I want us all to take the lead in our respective agencies to now develop innovative forward looking programmes which will have a lasting impact on the lives of people in our areas as well as preventing others from engaging in such unacceptable behaviour."

In September 2011, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published its final report into disability related harassment entitled 'Hidden in Plain Sight'. This report revealed how disability related harassment and hate crimes are a common place experience for disabled people, and a culture of disbelief and systemic institutional failures across a range of public service providers are hindering effective prevention. The report found that in many instances, repeated harassment quickly escalated into serious incidents and in some instances resulted in the serious injury or murder of a disabled person.