Letters to the Guardian
Disabled people are indeed being failed by the criminal justice system (Police and prosecutors apologise to disabled victims of crime, 11 May). There are two key reasons why the police fail disabled people: inadequate mechanisms to capture data on the prevalence of crimes against disabled people, and an all too frequent failure to take such crimes seriously.
It is very important that police officers give due consideration to offences against disabled people from the outset, as low-level harassment - name-calling and intimidation - can frequently escalate into more serious crimes. A report recently published by Scope, Disability Now magazine and the UK Disabled People's Council highlighted numerous cases where offences had escalated, mainly because police officers had failed to respond appropriately. Recently introduced statutory performance indicators to monitor crimes against disabled people will help address this, although this data is unlikely to be available for some years as many police forces do not have the IT capacity to collect it.
I read with disappointment your report that some police jurisdiction areas serve crime victims who present with learning disabilities in a less than appropriate manner. My own son - a member of an excellent self-advocacy forum known as People First, Merseyside - was one of many who were invited to a day conference last year where the subject of such crimes was not only discussed by a Merseyside police-led initiative, but real-world practical advice and contact details were also dispensed.
The Guardian, 16th May 2009