TAKING A STAND AGAINST THUGS; Community comes together to protect vulnerable from abuse.
SHOPKEEPERS, librarians and cafe owners in Warwickshire are among those taking a stand against thugs who shout abuse at disabled people.
Bosses at retail giants such as Tesco and Boots and library managers have signed up to a new scheme called Safe Places. The scheme is aimed at people with learning difficulties who are sometimes singled out by thugs as targets for abuse and even violence.
The organisations involved have a Safe Places sticker outside so disabled people know they can go there to find a sympathetic ear, take shelter from the thugs and get help reporting the abuse. The initiative was launched ahead of Learning Disability Week which runs next week.
SAFE HAVEN: Reach Cafe the first The scheme is being piloted in Leamington and Warwick - where Within Reach Cafe was one of the first to sign up - with a view to rolling it out county-wide. Warwick's Chief Inspector Mike Slemensek, equality, diversity and human rights manager for Warwickshire Police, said: "The introduction of Safe Places is a very important partnership initiative which will provide more protection and support to people who are victims of disability related hate crime and harassment.
"It comes at exactly the right time to fit in with the work Warwickshire Police is doing to encourage people to report hate crime through our response and engagement of hate crimes campaign."
Philip Hetherington, of Mencap, said: "The under reporting of hate crime against people with a learning disability in Warwickshire needs to be urgently addressed.
Within "People with a learning disability need to feel safe and confident that their concerns will be dealt with effectively by the authorities and the Safe Places scheme is a positive approach to ensure that these crimes are reported to the police."
was one of to join Coun Izzi Seccombe (Con, Stour on the Vale), Warwickshire County Council's cabinet member for adult social care, said: "For too long vulnerable people have been prevented from doing the every day things we take for granted for fear of being bullied, harassed and attacked.
"By joining forces with the whole community and showing the Safe Places symbol in as many places as possible we can give people confidence to lead fulfilled lives in their communities."
SAFE HAVEN: Within Reach Cafe was one of the first to join CREATING SAFER PLACES: From left, Coun Richard Hobbs, Phil Hetherington, Chief Insp. Mike Slemensek, Richard Barlow, Janine Wheatley, Coun Izzi Seccombe and John McMahon