Police figures reveal new concerns


More than one in five victims of repeated anti-social behaviour are disabled people, new official figures have revealed.

The statistics are contained in a report published by the chief inspector of constabulary, Denis O’Connor.

He also said that more than half of police forces across England and Wales did not have IT systems capable of automatically identifying people who were victims of repeated anti-social behaviour when they called police for help.

A survey by the inspectorate of 765 people who had reported suffering repeated anti-social behaviour found that 22 per cent described themselves as disabled people. The inspectorate said it would investigate this issue further.

But the survey also found that the police failed to attend nearly a quarter of these incidents.

Repeated anti-social behaviour targeted on disabled people has been a high profile issue since an inquest last September into the death of Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca.

Pilkington killed herself and her daughter after a ten-year hate campaign led by a local gang, much of it directed at Francecca, who had learning difficulties.

Last November, crime reduction minister Alan Campbell told a hate crime conference that their deaths had focused attention on the “torment” that can come from “systematic” abuse.

Stephen Brookes, coordinator of the National Disability Hate Crime Network, said the inspectorate’s survey backed up reports that were being sent to the network’s new Facebook group.

He said: “People do not get abused once – it goes on and on and on.”

And he called for all police forces to introduce software used by Lancashire police, which allows it to recognise repeat victims.

Brookes said it was “not acceptable” that other forces were failing to ensure their IT systems could recognise such people, and added: “People’s lives are being put at risk because of a software issue.”

An Association of Chief Police Officers spokeswoman said there was “ongoing work in relation to this particular area” but it was “complex” and “not a quick fix”. She said Lancashire police was “trialling” the software.

She added: “Fiona Pilkington is a really horrible tragic case but that is not happening every day. It’s an extreme case. A lot of anti-social behaviour is being dealt with effectively.”

11 March 2010

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