Event marks success of disability community safety programme in Northern Ireland

7 March 2016

Clare Pelham at Be Safe Stay Safe event in Northern IrelandA community safety programme for disabled people has been congratulated on its success at an event attended by Minister of Justice David Ford today. 

Be Safe Stay Safe was commended by the Minister and Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton for helping disabled people feel safer in their homes and out and about in their communities.

Over one hundred people attended the event at the Titanic Centre in Belfast.

Be Safe Stay Safe is run by the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and funded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Safe and Well Programme.

It helps disabled people to overcome the fear of crime and anti-social behaviour through advice, awareness training and practical support. 

Michael Bailey from Belfast, and who is supported by the service, said:

‘Before I was afraid and felt very, very alone. I felt no one was listening to me.

‘Be Safe Stay Safe changed that for me, I can go out again, there is light at the end of the tunnel. It's an excellent, excellent service.’

The programme also includes the Hate Crime Advocacy Scheme, which supports victims of disability hate crime to report incidents to the police and navigate the criminal justice system. 

Be Safe Stay Safe has made a huge difference to the lives of thousands of disabled people and their families in Northern Ireland.

Overall 13,000 people have been supported through its extensive work over the past six years. 

The programme’s other successes include:

  • The reporting of ‘hate incidents’ increased by 86%, and the reporting of ‘hate crimes’ increased 117% since 2013, through the Hate Crime Advocacy Scheme.
  • A six week one-to-one personal safety programme delivered to 340 disabled people in Northern Ireland over the past three years.
  • Hate crime awareness training sessions delivered to over 4000 people since 2013. 

Minister of Justice David Ford said:

‘Leonard Cheshire Disability is to be commended for the support they have provided to disabled people through their Be Safe Stay Safe project and to victims of disability hate crime through the Hate Crime Advocacy Scheme. 

‘We should never underestimate the impact becoming a victim of crime can have on individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable. This is why tackling hate crime is so important.

‘When the Community Safety Strategy launched in 2012, I gave a commitment that the criminal justice system would tackle hate crime through prevention, awareness, education and support for victims and communities.

‘Since then my department has engaged at length with statutory agencies, and those from the voluntary and community sector, to ensure, through partnership working, we provide the best service we can for those in our communities who are more vulnerable.

‘There is no place for hate crime in Northern Ireland society and Leonard Cheshire Disability’s contribution to empowering victims and giving them the confidence to report hate crimes, will ensure their voices are heard.’

National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Hate Crime, Police Service of Northern Ireland Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said:

‘We have been working in partnership with Leonard Cheshire Disability for a number of years.  

‘During this time we have developed a range of initiatives including the Be Safe Stay Safe programme and the Hate Crime Advocacy Scheme.

‘This scheme is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom and works to make the Police Service more accessible to the disabled population and raises awareness of this often unreported issue in our society

‘We take hate crime seriously and actively investigate all incidents reported to us.

‘Hate crime is wrong on all levels and the Police Service of Northern Ireland will do everything we can to ensure everyone, from whatever background, can live free from prejudice, fear and discrimination.’

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s chief executive Clare Pelham said:

‘Disability hate crime is disgusting. It’s shameful and it ruins lives. I’m proud Leonard Cheshire Disability, alongside our fantastic partners, is working to stamp out disability hate crime for good.

‘What has been done here in Northern Ireland should be a blueprint for action right across the UK. I hope we can replicate the success of Be Safe Stay Safe again and again.’

Media enquiries

Email: Afsheen.latif@leonardcheshire.org. Out of hours: 07903 949 388. Or call the general press office number on: 020 3242 0399.

Notes to editors

  1. Be Safe Stay Safe includes a programme providing free, interactive training covering issues such as bullying, internet safety, awareness on public transport, and protecting personal finances. Since July 2013, it has also included the Disability Hate Crime Advocacy service which supports disabled people to report hate crimes and navigate their way through the criminal justice system.
  2. Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries.