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Hate crime e-learning tool developed with Avon and Somerset

What started as an in-person CPD training day for tactical advisors has developed into a learning package that can be used by all forces

Not-for-profit disability support organisation Dimensions has developed a free e-learning tool for forces to use for training on disability hate crime following a successful project with Avon and Somerset Police. 

Home Office data shows that in the year ending March 2022, there were 12,242 disability hate crimes recorded in England and Wales - a 43 per cent increase on the previous year. 

Dimensions began working with Avon and Somerset last year when they delivered in-person training at a CPD day for hate crime tactical advisors. 

Since then, the organisation has worked on an e-learning package in consultation with the force who was able to advise them on operational elements as well as policy procedures. 

The training comprises eight modules and lasts around 90 minutes. It uses a variety of multimedia including videos and knowledge checks. 

Avon and Somerset’s Head of Performance and Assurance Superintendent Paul Wiggington told Police Oracle that the real benefit of this training is the lived experience that it platforms. 

“[The training is] focussed on initially tackling under-reporting of disability hate crime but also it provides training for officers on how to respond and spot the signs of a disability. 

“Language is really important here, as is communication style.

“On top of that, you need to recognise that with this type of vulnerability victims often don’t know they’re a victim.

“There’s a barrier to reporting, but then once it’s reported it’s not always recognised.”

Supt Wiggington called for victims in this area to be recognised as enhanced victims - in a similar way to how vulnerable victims under the Code of Practice might receive a different level of service including the regularity of contact, length of time spent with them and the methods of explaining the process. 

Avon and Somerset are due to trial the online training across the next month with their hate crime tactical officers. Following fedback to the course developers from the pilot there are then plans to roll that out more widely and Supt Wiggington said it was an important package to go out to all officers. 

“We don’t always recognise as a police service things like people not being believed, or feeling embarrassed,” he explained. 

“There can be physical practicalities for why people don’t report - if they’re isolated for example or even have a carer who’s a harmer towards them. Mate crime is another example, victims may think they’re in a relationship or best friends with that person but actually they’ve been targeted - for financial crime perhaps. 

“We also need that recognition that there is a lack of trust and confidence from some communities around whether they are going to be supported.” 

Police Oracle asked Supt Wiggington about the College’s recent updated guidance in this area. He underlined that hate crime itself is not affected and that it should still be investigated in the same way. The guidance itself only excludes ‘non-crime hate’ incidents. 

“From my perspective, it’s actually really important that we do continue to understand some of those non-crime hate incidents which are happening, again often to some of the most vulnerable people in the community,” he said. 

“If we don’t build up a picture of that, we can’t intervene and we can’t identify where that risk is escalating [...] it’s still important that we continue to record those proportionately and deal with them. 

“I think the guidance mainly relates to freedom of speech and debates - we’ve made sure our officers have got that understanding and have recently rolled out training.” 

In terms of how training officers combats under-reporting, Supt Wiggington says it allows positive feedback to be passed on.

He added: “[This isn’t about trying to] raise fear around this type of crime happening, this is for me to raise awareness, encourage reporting and to make sure that really when it is reported to us, we recognise it, give the right support, and the right investigation level to the victims.”

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