Merseyside’s Police Commissioner is today joining forces with Mencap Liverpool to host a major seminar to raise awareness of learning disabilities amongst frontline 'first responders' in the police and other services.
More than 100 police officers and staff, as well as nearly 50 professionals from health, education and local government will attend the event organised by Jane Kennedy in partnership with the local learning disability charity Mencap Liverpool at Merseyside Police Headquarters.
The event is designed to raise awareness of learning disability and Autistic Spectrum Conditions, support victims who have been affected by disability hate crime and improve communication with vulnerable people.
Among those speaking will be victims of disability hate crime who have been supported by Mencap Liverpool’s specialist outreach service while people who have a learning disability will talk about their experiences of dealing with the police and will share practical tips to help attendees improve the way they communicate with people with learning disabilities.
Professionals from the CPS, Victim Support, Knowsley and St Helens councils and the probation service are among those who are expected to attend.
Jane said: “Vulnerable members of our community deserve the best possible support and care and we can only achieve this if we ensure we are communicating with people effectively.
“This event is designed to raise awareness among frontline first responders within the police and our partner agencies about how they can improve the care they give by communicating with people with learning disabilities in the right way. By doing this from the first moment of contact we can ensure vulnerable people are better supported and increase the chance of successfully prosecuting the individuals who have brought them misery.
“We know we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with learning disability hate crime. It is a sad fact that about nine out of 10 people with learning disabilities will suffer harassment, abuse or hatred. Despite that, we know that about 97% of these incidents are never reported.
“Through this seminar I hope we can improve understanding and awareness and ensure those who are out on the frontline are better trained to respond effectively when an individual needs a greater level of care. Crucially, this should also give people with learning disabilities the confidence to come forward, report the incidents they suffer and get help.”
Mencap Liverpool’s Chief Executive Sarah Jones said: “It’s important to recognise that people who have a learning disability are more likely to experience all forms of crime. They are more vulnerable before, during and after a crime has occurred.
“If professionals have a greater awareness of learning disability, these vulnerable victims receive more appropriate support, leading to improved reporting, successful prosecutions and most importantly, better outcomes for the victim.”
Find out more about the work of Mencap Liverpool.
Image: Mencap Liverpool's Chief Executive Sarah Jones