devon somerset hate crimeFire advocates from Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service (DSFRS) now have a greater knowledge of disability crime and how to best report it after attending a training session hosted by Devon & Cornwall Police and Plymouth People First.

The joint awareness session, which was presented to adults with a learning disability from the Plymouth Highbury Trust as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week [20-26 Oct], sought to improve firefighters’ ability to spot potential hate or 'mate' crime while undertaking home fire safety checks in people’s homes.

DSFRS' community firefighter, Dave Evans, said: "The Fire Service is happy to support this Hate Crime Awareness Session. It is important that adults with a learning disability are made aware of what a hate crime is and equally as important that our staff understands and can identify hate and mate crime."

The Service also sponsored 100 goody bags promoting Stop Hate UK, an organisation that provides free helplines, support and advice for victims of mate crime around the country.

'Hatred and bigotry incompatible with aims for the city'
Plymouth People First has worked closely with the Plymouth Diversity Communities Team (DCT) for the past four years, and Self-Advocacy project officer Jill Singh was pleased to see the scheme expand to increase firefighters' awareness.

"With help from the DCT and local PCSO we have looked at the difference between an incident and a crime, what is a hate or mate crime, how to report and who to report to," she said.

"This year our emphasis has been on giving our members the vocabulary they need to provide accurate offender descriptions. I am thrilled so many of our partner agencies are keen to work with us to promote the importance of reporting hate and mate crime during this national awareness week. Plymouth People First members will realise there are lots of different organisations out there who can support them if they are targeted because of their learning disability.”

Superintendent Chris Singer, who funded the afternoon session, added:  "Respect for all people should be at the core of all that we do and how we behave. To target a person because of their perceived difference, to tolerate hatred and bigotry diminishes our society and is incompatible with our aspirations as a city. I am proud to be involved in work that challenges hatred and encourages and supports victims to come forward.”