A SERVICE to tackle hate or abuse towards disabled people has been launched in Sunderland.
The incident reporting group Arch has created the new service supporting victims of, or witnesses to, acts of hate towards disabled people.
It was set up with the help of the Disability Independent Advisory Group (Diag) and Sunderland People First.
Arch is a network of organisations, including Sunderland City Council, Northumbria Police and University of Sunderland, which are working together to make it easier for people to report hate incidents.
Many disabled people say that harassment is an everyday part of their life.
Coun Tom Foster, chairman of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, said: “It’s a sad fact that people can show hatred towards people with a disability, but unfortunately it does happen. That is why I am delighted that people are now able to report such incidents to Arch.
“The reporting system cannot stop disability hate occurring single-handed. However, it can be used as a mechanism for people to report, anonymously if they prefer, any incidents of disability hate and be supported afterwards, and in come cases lead to a conviction.
“The message is clear. If you are a victim or if you witness a hate incident, please tell us because we can help.”
Liz Highmore, co-chairwoman of Diag, said: “There is a lack of reporting of disability hate. Disabled people can sometimes be more isolated and that is why this new service from Arch is so vital.
“We need to get the message out to disabled people that they really need to report any incidents of hate towards them, whether it comes from a stranger, a family member, a carer, or anyone else.
“They no longer need to suffer in silence. There is support out there and they need to make use of it.”
Arch was launched in 2007 to increase the number of hate incidents reported, provide better, more co-ordinated support for victims, tackle the perpetrators and ultimately reduce the number of hate incidents in Sunderland.
Victims or witnesses can report an incident anonymously, or if they need support, can leave their name in confidence.
To report an incident of hate confidentially, call 08000 778 378 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also report an incident in person by visiting a reporting centre, to see a full list go to www.sunderland-arch.org.uk