Vulnerable people need more protection from so-called “mate crime”.
Around 180 delegates from a range of agencies met at the University of Sunderland for the #WhoRYa Mate Crime Conference – the first of its kind in the region.
The conference was organised by South Tyneside Council to help raise awareness and explore how agencies can work together more effectively to tackle mate crime.
Mate crime is a term used to describe physical, mental or financial abuse of people with learning disabilities by those they believe are their friends. People with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable.
Coun Moira Smith, chairwoman of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership, said: “People with learning disabilities may already struggle with some of the complexities of daily life. They should never have to worry that so-called friends may go on to exploit their apparent friendship.
“Treating someone badly because of their disability is disgraceful in itself. But when they pretend to be their friend and subject them to financial, mental or physical abuse, it is appalling.
“This conference has reinforced the need for all of us to do everything we can to help protect those who may be vulnerable to mate crime.”
Speakers included Rod Landman from the Association for Real Change (ARC), Newcastle MP Catherine McKinnell and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC.
Dame Vera Baird QC said: “No one should have to live in fear that people who pretend to be their friends will steal from them, assault them or encourage them to commit crimes on their behalf. I will do my upmost to crack down upon so-called ‘mate crime’.
“It’s essential that victims have somewhere to go to turn to for help – and I’m pleased to say that Northumbria is ranked one of the best forces in the country for hate crime victim satisfaction.”
Those who believe they may be a victim of this kind of abuse, please don’t hesitate to report it to police or contact Victims First Northumbria on 0800 011 3116.”
For further information visit www.whorya.co.uk