Taking a stand against ‘hate’ crime

Barnstaple rally to highlight crimes against the learning disabled

A GROUP of people with learning disabilities are planning to march in Barnstaple to take a stand against hate crime.

Next Friday’s rally is one of a number of events taking place around the country as part of Learning Disability Week, which this year is urging the police to make disability hate crime a priority.

Those taking part will be wearing orange and will set off from Barnstaple Rugby Club at 12.30pm, marching under the slogan “Stand by me”.

They will march through the town at 1pm en route to a rally at the Square from 2pm. The event will feature live music by South Molton group the Honeytones.

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Rod Landman, manager of ARC Safety Net, a three-year project set up to increase awareness about “mate crime”, said: “Most people are not aware of how much hate and mate crime people with learning disabilities experience.

“We are aware of cases in North Devon where people with disabilities have been sexually abused or ripped off by their so-called friends, even including people being persuaded to change their wills.

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A common one is where people living on their own are visited by a group of ‘friends’ every Friday night. They come in and drink their victim’s beer, use their phone, eat everything in their fridge and then leave them with the clearing up.

“The tricky thing is that people with a learning disability often don’t realise they are being taken advantage of and don’t complain. So nothing gets done and you get an increasing spiral of abuse.

“It’s down to people’s real friends and neighbours to see what is going on and report it to the Police. Join our march, show you care, and pledge to help stop it.”

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