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Police Scotland campaigns against disability hate crime

Police Scotland’s Chief Constable has recorded a campaign message in sign language as part of an anti-hate crime initiative.

Chief Constable Iain Livingstone used British Sign Language in a video to encourage people with a disability to report hate crimes committed aginst them.

The force’s social media and poster campaign, #DontTolerateHate, was triggered by data that showed although one in five people in Scotland are registered as having a disability, they account for just 4% of reports.

Police Scotland said the low reporting was likely because of victims not knowing who to talk to, how to report it, thinking abuse is just a part of life, or not fully understanding what constitutes hate crime.

The force is focusing work on public transport, including buses, as this is where the majority of recorded incidents have taken place.

The campaign, supported by the charity I Am Me Scotland, features people who have been victims of crimes including vandalism and assault.

One of the people taking part in the campaign, Sam, who has Down’s Syndrome, explained: “I didn’t report it to police myself as I didn’t know it was a crime but when I told my dad we reported it. I just don’t want this to happen to anyone else which is why I wanted to be part of this campaign. I want people to report hate crime to police."

Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie, Police Scotland strategic lead for Partnerships, Prevention and Community Wellbeing, said: “Disability hate crime is never acceptable. It is deplorable for anyone to be targeted because of any kind of disability. Sadly it’s happening day in and day out across the country, but people should never just accept it as a part of life.”

He added: “Anyone reporting disability hate crime will be treated sympathetically, taken seriously, and their experience will be thoroughly investigated.”

Eileen MacLean, Chair of I Am Me Scotland, said it was an issue that the rest of the UK needed to tackle: “We are pleased to support Police Scotland. This is recognised, nationally, as one of the most under-reported crimes in the UK. It is vital people report incidents to police.”

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