In the Media

Bolton's drive against disability hate crime goes national

PUBLISHED February 28, 2012

Conference in March will beat the drum for an energetic, pro-active approach to encourage disabled people to enjoy town centre life to the full

Bolton's I'm Not Laughing campaign against disability 'hate crime', which attracted a lot of attention when the Guardian Northerner featured it last year, is spreading its wings.

The campaign launch, which was the subject of our post, was followed up efficiently on the ground, winning support from venues all over the town. One of its particular merits was clear communication of a simple message ? that disabled people are not and should not be the butt of discrimination and patronising (or much worse) comments.

That was recognised a fortnight ago when I'm Not Laughing won Greater Manchester Police's annual excellence award for outstanding communication. The next step is a conference in Bolton on 29 March for other authorities and agencies to see if a similar exercise would be helpful to them.

The event at the Victoria Hall from 11am to 3pm will explain how the moving letter from a young disabled woman about her victimisation in Bolton ? quoted in full in our last post ? galvanised the town. The neighbourhood policing team, the council's community safety department and central Bolton business partnership all got together and agreed a robust response.

That pro-active element will be the central message of the conference, as Rachel White of Bolton community safety says:

The campaign is unique in that it challenges disability hate crime in a proactive manner, rather than waiting for incidents to occur before encouraging reporting and providing support to victims. I'm Not Laughing therefore aims to stop the incidents before they occur so that Bolton town centre can be a safe and welcoming environment for all.

As part of that, it encourages people with disabilities to visit and enjoy town centre's pubs and clubs, without fear of being verbally or physically abused. That part has involved developing an awareness raising training package for bar staff and door staff at Bolton town centre pubs and clubs.

Delegates will be taken through the project, which the Association of Chief Police Officers is considering including in its long-awaited hate crime manual as an example of good practice; then a debate and exchange of information will be followed by the handing out of a 'Bolton toolkit' to help get similar schemes under way elsewhere.

There's more on the campaign's Facebook page and ?15 places at the conference (max four per authority/agency) are bookable on 01204 331081 or?email
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