POLICE in Hampshire have launched a crackdown on hate crime against disabled people.
Now they have joined forces with Blue Apple Theatre to create a film which they hope will encourage more people to report incidents to police.
The film, Paul’s Story, commissioned by the Home Office, follows a man with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism, who is suffering from abuse and prejudice from his community.
One hundred people from across Hampshire took part in the production, including police officers and actors from the Winchester-based theatre company, which helps adults with learning disabilities to build skills and confidence through performance.
The project was inspired by the Equality and Human Rights Commission inquiry into disability-related harassment and Royal Mencap’s national campaign Stand By Me, which aims to end disability hate crime.
Since the end of 2012, 52 disability hate crime cases were reported to Hampshire police, 12 more than the previous year, and many more incidents are thought to go unreported.
According to statistics from the Home Office, almost two-thirds of these cases involved violence against a person and one in five of those cases involved causing injury.
Superintendent James Fulton said: “It’s not always easy to recognise abuse of this nature when it’s happening or to have the confidence to come forward and report it when you do. If you are able to tell someone – the police, a friend, a carer – then there are many things we in the police can do to resolve the problems, prevent them from happening again and help you get the support you need.
“Hampshire Constabulary is committed to protecting people from harm, particularly the most vulnerable in our communities and we’ll be using the film to help our own officers and staff to better identify disability hate crime and ensure we’re continuing to improve the service we provide to our communities.”
The 20-minute film will be premiered Saturday at the Everyman Theatre in Winchester, after which it can be seen at blueappletheatre.com.
Anyone who has been the victim of disability hate crime or knows someone who has should visit report-it.org.uk or call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.