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Police failures in hate crime case
Tuesday 22 March 2011
Case verdict demonstrates need to raise awareness of disability hate crime
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has identified 'systemic failures' in the way Greater Manchester Police (GMP) dealt with the abuse experienced by a man with a learning disability and his family prior to his death.
David Askew, 64, collapsed and died in the garden of his home in Hattersley in March 2010, after local youths reportedly threw a wheelie bin around and tampered with his mother's mobility scooter.
Following Mr Askew's death, it emerged that he and his family had suffered harassment and anti-social behaviour over a number of years. Between January 2004 and March 2010, there were 88 reported incidents involving the family.
The IPCC conducted an independent review of how GMP had dealt with these incidents. It found that local police worked 'diligently' to assist the family, including when off duty.
However, they had failed to consistently identify the vulnerability of the Askew family or respond to the incidents as hate crime. The force had no systems in place to deal with repeated targeting of disabled people, and many incidents were dealt with in isolation by officers who did not know the background.
Mencap's chief executive Mark Goldring said: "What Mr Askew experienced was terrible and prolonged abuse. Too often, the victim is seen as the trouble-maker or these incidents are dismissed just as anti-social behaviour.
"Mencap estimates that as many as 9 out of 10 people with a learning disability are verbally harassed or exposed to violence due to their disability. It is hate crime and deserves to be taken as seriously as racial, religious and homophobic crime.
"Mencap is launching our ‘Stand by me' campaign in June this year, where we will ask police forces across the country to make the kinds of changes in responding to hate crime that have been indicated by the Greater Manchester Police."
IPCC commissioner Naseem Malik said: "Greater Manchester Police have recognised the failings in this matter and have proactively undertaken work, coupled with the IPCC's investigation, to learn lessons. Strategies and structures are now in place to tackle anti-social behaviour including the identification of vulnerability, repeat victimisation and offender management."
Find out more about Mencap's 'Stand by me' campaign
Read more about the IPCC report