Police and crime commissioner candidates plan to fight hate crimes

Dorset Echo: IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Police commissioner candidates Martyn Underhill and Nick King at the Dorford Centre, Dorchester, to answer questions from disabled people IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Police commissioner candidates Martyn Underhill and Nick King at the Dorford Centre, Dorchester, to answer questions from disabled people

DISABLED people got the chance to find out how Dorset’s police and crime commissioner candidates propose to tackle hate crime.

In an event at the Dorford Centre in Dorchester organised by charity Mencap, Conservative candidate Nick King and independent candidate Martyn Underhill, spoke to disabled people and campaigners and took part in question and answer sessions.

Liberal Democrat candidate Andy Canning, and Rachel Rogers, for Labour, could not attend the event because of prior engagements, but provided information to be presented.

Mervyn Harris, chair of West Dorset Mencap, said: “Hate crime and harassment is unfortunately a daily reality for many people with a learning disability.

“We know that almost three in every five disabled people are the victims of attacks, and when hate crime takes hold, it can have serious and even tragic consequences.”

Attendees at the event included representatives from Dorchester-based learning difficulties group Dorset People First, as well as those who live with disabilities and learning difficulties.

Research by Mencap suggests that nine out of 10 people with learning difficulties have been the victim of hate crime and bullying, but the number who report such incidents to the police is far lower.

As well as the question and answer session, information was presented on the charity’s anti-hate crime campaign Stand By Me. The national three-year campaign aims to prompt police forces and the justice system to take a stronger stance on hate crime.

Mr Harris said: “Feedback from people who attended the event was really good, with many people describing it as ‘informative and engaging’.

Pauline Malins, secretary of the mid-Dorset Mencap group, said: “I thought this event was great. The level of engagement from this group of people was incredible, and I certainly feel a lot better informed.”

A NEW ROLE THE new role of police and crime commissioner aims to give the public a greater say in how crime is tackled in their area.

The commissioner will be responsible for setting policing priorities in their area, putting across the views of the public and holding the force to account.

Voting will take place on November 15.

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