Victims of disability hate crime meet the Minister of Justice Claire Sugden

13 December 2016

Executive director UK Care Services Hugh Fenn, John Gillespie, Minister of Justice Claire Sugen, Michael Bailey, director of operations NI Tonya McCormacA regional advocacy service supporting victims of disability hate crime has today been congratulated on its ongoing success by the Minister of Justice Claire Sugden.

Leonard Cheshire’s Disability Hate Crime Advocacy Service provides person-centred support to victims of disability hate crime, working to ensure the victim’s voice is heard, their concerns are addressed, and they receive equity of service throughout the criminal justice process.

Justice Minister Claire Sugden said:

‘Today I have heard at first hand the devastating impact disability hate crime has on individuals and their families.

‘This is why initiatives such as the Disability Hate Crime Advocacy Service are so important.

‘I commend Leonard Cheshire Disability for the support they provide to disabled people and look forward to seeing how they grow their services in the years to come.’

While it is important everyone is encouraged to report all such hate crimes and incidents to the police service, it is vital victims receive tailored and independent support.

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Advocacy Service works to ensure victims receive appropriate, person-centred support and provides for the opportunity to engage with further support services.

Victim Michael Bailey from Belfast said:

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

‘Leonard Cheshire Disability 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 service, which works in partnership with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, has seen an increase in the reporting of disability hate crimes and incidents in recent years.

While this increased reporting is welcomed, it is important victims receive adequate support before, during, and after the investigation process

Leonard Cheshire Disability director of operations for Northern Ireland Tonya McCormac said:

‘Disability hate crime is wrong and should not be tolerated at any level.

‘It is important we as a society continue to provide ‘support to report’ for victims and witnesses of disability hate crime.

‘We need to continue to collaborate to make improvements to the wider criminal justice system for victims of disability hate crime, and in the longer term create a society where disabled people are free from hate crime.’

If you need advocacy support or further information please email disability hate crime advocacy service or call 028 9066 1281.

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