Tuesday 13th September 2011
- By Dan Bean »Reporter
- A DISABILITY campaigner from York has spoken out after a national report said thousands of disabled people were suffering abuse on a daily basis.
The inquiry, entitled Hidden In Plain Sight, was carried out by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), and looked at reports from police forces, schools and public transport operators around the country to find out the scale of daily harassment.
Coun Lynn Jeffries, chair of the leading group for disabled people, said that although the report did not feature any input from North Yorkshire, it was very likely that disabled people across the region had experienced this kind of harassment and abuse.
Coun Jeffries, said: “I definitely think we probably do (have that kind of behaviour in York), and the report said hate crime and harassment was under-reported. I think that’s an important point. Sometimes, if you’ve been brought up and been ridiculed all your life, which some people have, you might not view it as hate crime. You might not like it, and it might make you feel uncomfortable, but they have come to deal with it.”
The report found that some individuals, when interviewed, said they had been targets of abuse so often, that they accepted the behaviour as inevitable.
Coun Jeffries said: “It is very common, but people don’t realise it, or may not realise it is a hate crime, or don’t know where to report it.
“You should be able to go to the police and I hope they would act in a positive way, in the same way they do into race crime. I think we do tend to recognise race hate more easily then we do against disability or sexuality.”
Sandra Gilpin works with York People First, a local charity run by people with disabilities and learning difficulties which tours schools and businesses around the region to highlight the problems of bullying.
She said: “People do get hurt and called names because they have a learning difficulty. This happens to people with mental health problems and ethnic groups too.
“We have done quite a lot of work on reporting to the police and council using easy-read reporting forms, which are in use in Selby, but York at the moment is working on its policy.”
The new forms mean people who wish to report harassment do not have to approach the police or council directly, and can instead hand their concerns in at locations around the town, including the library, and have been submitted to City of York Council for consideration.