8.25 AM Tuesday 16 September 2014

'Speak Out' campaign launched across Dorset

A new campaign against disability-related harassment, designed by local students at Bournemouth and Poole College is being launched across Dorset.

The campaign called ‘Speak Out’ aims to give disabled people the confidence to come forward and report bullying or harassment whilst ensuring there is the support and advice that they need.

Councillor Lawrence Williams, Cabinet Member for Corporate Policy and Implementation, Bournemouth Borough Council, said: “Many people are shocked to hear that disabled people are victims of bullying and harassment. By supporting campaigns such as ‘Speak Out’ we can help give disabled people the confidence to report any disability-related harassment and offer them reassurance that there is support and advice available to them. It is also great to see local students from Bournemouth and Poole College wanting to help tackle this important issue and support disabled people across Dorset.”   

The campaign will be launched on Friday 22 February and is supported by local Councils in Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole College, the Crown Prosecution Service, Dorset Police and other local organisations in a bid to make people aware that bullying and harassment is not acceptable.

Councillor Judy Butt, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Communities, Public Engagement and Participation, Borough of Poole, said: “Disabled people must never feel that they should have to tolerate verbal abuse, bullying or harassment. We are confident that the excellent ‘Speak Out’ campaign will make people aware that disability related harassment is never acceptable. The campaign will give people the confidence to report incidents safely in the knowledge that they will receive full support. We want people to know if they feel unable to report incidents to the police then they can call any of the Dorset councils or other local organisations to get help and advice.”

Detective Superintendent Garrick Smith, Dorset Police, said: “Dorset Police is concerned that some victims of disability-related harassment are not reporting incidents to the police. This may be for a number of reasons and we want to reassure victims and their families that we will listen, we will take their reports seriously and we will support them.

"Where there is clear evidence of a criminal offence we will always look to prosecute the offender, and we will support the victim through the court process. No one needs to suffer in silence. Every day, victims of racial, homophobic and other hate crime contact Dorset Police and we take these reports very seriously – I urge anyone who is the victim of disability related hate crime to report it.

"Victims do not have to report the incident directly to Dorset Police, they can report all incidents of hate crime by logging on to the Dorset Police website, or their local authority website. They can also choose to use a third party to report the crime or incident and there are links on our website for this.”

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