My name is Richard Sherratt and I was a victim of hate crime, but now I help the police to stop learning disability hate crime, and I recently won an award for my work.
Just over four years ago, I lived in my own flat and I was a victim of hate crime. It started with my neighbour shouting at me through my front door because my television was too loud and ended with my electricity being switched off, abusive phone calls and someone spitting on my front door.
The police didn’t handle the hate crime properly – they just listened to my neighbour. It was a horrible time and nobody seemed to listen to me and how I was feeling. I decided I could not live there any more, as I was so scared. Now I live with my mum and stepdad and I am happy – I feel very safe.
My mum works for Mencap and was asked to talk about my experience at a Mencap event in Worcester and lots of people were keen for me to tell others. It was hard at first, as I still got upset about it all.
Making a difference
I have been training people from the control centre at Northamptonshire Police. I trained more than 100 people. I stood at the front of a classroom with my mum and I told my story. I explained how the police didn’t always listen or possibly understand me – on one occasion, they nearly barred my number, as I was seen as a nuisance caller. But I was calling for help.
The police said I was brave to tell everyone. Lots of people asked questions about how I felt and how the police can make things better for all people with a learning disability. I talked about better communication within the police and will be training the safer community teams in Kettering and Corby in July and September. I will show them how to communicate with people with a learning disability – including using Makaton, objects and pictures.
The police have listened to me. They have told me that they learned loads from me and I have helped them handle calls better when somebody with a learning disability calls the dedicated disability line. They make sure that people listen more. We can now call this number direct and the police know it is a disabled person calling.
I am also in the Keep Safe group in Northamptonshire. We have done lots of things around hate crime. We now have a Keep Safe card scheme and Keep Safe places, to make people with a learning disability feel safe in the community.
I am one of the trainers for the Keep Safe places – we show the staff how to communicate with people with a learning disability. We have recently trained all the Northampton General Hospital volunteers and it is now a Keep Safe place. The volunteers and hospital staff said our training was really good.
We use a DVD to do our training. I am in the DVD. It tells people how to use their Keep Safe card and tells all the Keep Safe places how to look after people when they need help. We acted out three different scenarios – the first one shows me being shouted at at a cash machine, another shows some thugs calling a girl names and kicking her wheelchair, and the last one shows a girl getting lost. Some people get really upset when they see it, as they did not realise this happened.
Certificate of appreciation
I recently got a certificate of appreciation from Northamptonshire Police. It was in recognition of my work in educating the control room staff on the effects of hate crime. I was nominated by inspector Dennis Murray – Dennis was the person who asked me to do the training. He said I had done a good job and I made quite an impression on everyone I trained. I gave him a big hug when he gave me my award.
It was given to me at their annual awards ceremony. I had to wear my suit and tie. Nobody told me – they all kept it a secret. I was really surprised and mum said I had a massive smile on my face. I also got a really big applause. I was smiling for days. I called lots of people to tell them.
I’ve also just won another award. It was an Anne Frank Award for people who have been determined to stand up for what is right. I won with some of my friends for my Keep Safe work, as well as the police training.
I enjoyed the training – it was brilliant. I got to talk to lots of staff from the police. I felt I was making a difference. I like going to the police HQ, as lots of people know me and talk to me when I go. My sister Louisa also works in the control room and I go and sit with her sometimes – I love doing that.
I would love to do the training again. I think that everyone needs to be told about hate crime, as it is not nice.