Tackling mental health and raising awareness of domestic abuse

by Mark Burns Williamson

October was a busy month of awareness raising with partners around safeguarding and hate crime.

Tackling mental health, raising awareness of domestic abuse and providing awareness on doorstep crime and scammers targeting the vulnerable were all topics covered as part of West Yorkshire’s Safeguarding Week.

It started on Monday October 9 and involved all the local safeguarding boards and community safety partnerships across the region with myself and West Yorkshire Police.

Workshops and events were held aimed at informing the public and professionals about how to protect the most vulnerable across the region.

Safeguarding is ‘everyone’s business’ and is central to the work of police and partners so it is only right that we all came together to highlight how we can help safeguard the vulnerable adults and children in the region.

Safeguarding people was considered the greatest priority by people responding to my “Your Priorities, Your Plan” consultation with 70% of people saying it was important to them.

Bradford opened the week by hosting a public conference aimed at people who use services, carers, volunteers, and members of the public. The event was focused on prevention addressing adult abuse, fraud and door step crime.

Held annually, the week aims to ensure Safeguarding is ‘everybody’s business’ educating the public and professionals on safeguarding topics including domestic abuse, mental health, cyber crime, forced marriage, child neglect and honour based abuse, and includes messages throughout the week on social media on how to stay safe.

The week was a great success. Just days later came a joint campaign between the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) and West Yorkshire Police around hate crime awareness to mark National Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The aim of the campaign was to raise awareness of what hate crime and hate incidents are and to encourage communities to report these issues when they take place.

No-one should be subjected to, or fear, abuse because of their disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Our communities understanding of what hate crime and hate incidents are has definitely increased but there’s still work to do. We still need to continue to raise awareness and push the message that we absolutely do not tolerate hate, and any incidents should be reported as soon as possible.

We will continue to do our utmost, together with our partners and our communities, to eradicate hate in West Yorkshire.

A hate crime is any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, while a hate incident is any non-criminal incident based on the above.

Crimes can include physical attacks, offensive graffiti and arson, threat of attack, such as inciting hatred by words, pictures or videos or offensive letters. Hate incidents can include verbal or online abuse, insults or harassment and bullying at school or in the workplace.

My Safer Communities Fund granted £4960 to an organisation called Why Don’t We, for a project to help raise awareness of, and prevent, disability hate and ‘mate’ crime.

Why Don’t We is a Bradford based charity, which supports adults with learning disabilities to address issues which affect their lives, raise awareness of forms of prejudice and abuse against those with learning disabilities, enable them to speak for themselves and enable their voices to be heard by the wider community.

The funded project involved working with adults with learning disabilities around mate crime at workshops throughout 2017. They also worked with Health and Social Care students at Bradford College to help develop the resources and this allowed the students to advance their learning through the participant’s life experiences.

The project used photography and sound recording to explore issues and create animated slide shows to help participants make sense of what can be a difficult concept. The resources created were based on real experiences from the Why Don’t We project.

Why Don’t We are also hoping to expand the project and provide training to key groups such as social workers, social care students and teachers.

As difficult to understand as it is, unfortunately ‘mate’ crime exists and raising awareness and preventing these issues is so important in safeguarding individuals and our communities.

Why Don’t We do a really fantastic job of engaging with adults with learning disabilities in a fun and interactive way. The presentations they have made will be invaluable to the community, wider professionals and partners for training and awareness purposes.

It’s also great that Health and Social Care students at the college have been actively engaged in this work and I can’t thank them all enough for their contributions to this work.

I would urge anyone with information about a hate crime or incidents to report it to the police or an independent Hate Incident Reporting Centre.

Reports to the police can be made by calling 999 in an emergency, calling 101 for a non-emergency, online at  or or by calling in to a police station. Details on Hate Incident Reporting Centres can also be found on West Yorkshire Police’s website.


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