Published: 11:45, 13 March 2018
A charity has spoken about a campaign working with Kent Police and other bodies to provide support to victims of hate crime.
KentOnline, kmfm and KMTV's charity of the year mcch set up the 'Jigsaw' campaign after their three-year research project revealed almost half of the people with learning disabilities and autism felt victimised.
Some 62% of people didn't feel able to report crimes to the police.
Now the charity delivers workshops to people with learning disabilities and autism across Medway and Kent which look at how to build confidence and recognise and report incidents.
Michael Duignan-Murphy manages the Jigsaw project.
He said: "Since 2010 we've been working to raise awareness of hate crime against people with learning disabilities.
"A key message we share is the impact of celebrating difference rather than stigmatising.
"It's vital we work with all age groups to make sure we tackle prejudices from an early age."
The team also goes into schools to speak to youngsters about the impacts of hate crime.
"One of the guiding principles of my Safer in Kent Plan is that people suffering mental ill health need the right care from the right person" - Matthew Scott
The team works closely with Kent Police, victim support staff, court staff and other agencies including the transport and business sectors to raise awareness of learning disabilities and how best to provide support.
The training gives people a better understanding of learning disabilities, and how they can take steps to stop hate crimes from happening in the first place.
They have also developed guidance for GPs in Medway carrying out health checks for people with learning disabilities and autism to help point them to the support they need.
Third party reporting hubs give people an alternative way to report a hate crime, without going directly to a police station.
Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Scott, who funds the Jigsaw project through a grant, said: "One of the guiding principles of my Safer in Kent Plan is that people suffering mental ill health need the right care from the right person.
"I’m proud to have funded the Jigsaw Project because mcch does some fantastic work helping Kent Police and its partners understand the unique needs of those with autism and learning disabilities.
"People with mental health issues are reportedly three times more likely to be a victim of crime and they may find the criminal justice process particularly scary or confusing.
"Vulnerable people must be protected from harm and that means equipping the police, and other partners who might come into contact with someone in crisis, with the skills they need to provide the best care and support they can."
For more information about the Jigsaw campaign visit www.mcch.org.uk/jigsaw.
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