A new free telephone helpline for people with learning disabilities who have been victims of disability hate crime has been launched.

The new 24-hour free helpline, Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime, has been launched by hate crime support organisation Stop Hate UK in England and Wales.

Anybody who has experienced, witnessed or knows someone who is experiencing learning disability hate crime can contact the helpline on 0808 802 1155 for support and information. Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime is free to call from landlines and most mobiles and the number won’t show on a phone bill.

Calls to the Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline will be answered by trained staff and volunteers, who understand the impact learning disability hate crime has on victims. Calls are confidential and callers will be asked whether they need on-going support. Referrals will be made where consent has been given by the victim.

Stop Hate UK will also follow up with callers and offer additional support, referrals or signposting where appropriate. All incidents will be reported to the local police by Stop Hate UK, either with the victim’s details for investigation purposes, if that is what the victim wants, or without the details of the victim for information and monitoring purposes.

Una Morris, project manager for Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime at Stop Hate UK, said: “Hate crime has a significant impact on victims, their families, friends, carers and on the wider community. Our experience of working with victims of learning disability hate crime tells us that some people believe that the incidents they have experienced are not serious enough to report to the police or they simply experience too many incidents to report, often on a daily basis. For other victims, they may not know that what they have experienced is hate crime, although they might know it is wrong, or they may be experiencing mate crime and think the perpetrators are their friends. We can support people to identify their experiences as hate crime or mate crime.

“The Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline offers a mechanism for reporting, support and information, as well as a way to access the support of other agencies, such as the police and housing providers.”

Paul Giannasi, on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers, added: “The Stop Learning Disability Hate Crime helpline is a vital service. We know from the British Crime Survey that disability hate crime is underreported. This is particularly true of learning disability hate crime. Stop Hate UK’s new helpline offers victims and witnesses an opportunity to report to an independent charity with specialist knowledge of learning disability hate crime. This service will benefit individuals and communities by increasing confidence in reporting processes and will provide valuable statistical data on the scale of the problem.”