A training course to help people with disabilities identify forms of abuse and discrimination has provided more than 100 Sutton people with practical advice on how to deal with such incidents.
And they were promised the support of the police if they called on them for help.
Examples included being subject to threatening name calling in the street, bus passengers refusing to give people with disabilities access to priority space, and a growing problem of people repeatedly being asked to pay for take-away food by people who call without being asked to do so.
In the first training course of its kind at the Sutton Life Centre, people with disabilities were presented with abuse scenarios on a bus, in the street and at home – all locations where they may be targeted because of their disability.
During the training, those who attended were encouraged to tell a trusted adult such as a parent, carer, guardian or care worker and to contact police - on 999 if they fear for their safety or on the 101 police non-emergency number.
They were told to report all incidents of abuse so police have a record of the incident and can build a picture of what’s happening so police can direct their officers to put a stop to it.
The training was organised by Sutton Council and the Met Police with the support of trainers from Sutton Mencap, Orchard Hill College and local Safer Transport Team police officers. Victim Support also assisted throughout the two days of training.
The people with disabilities were invited from Sutton Mencap, Orchard Hill College, Carshalton College and Cheam High School.
Introducing the training sessions, Lib Dem Leader of Sutton Council, Ruth Dombey said the Council, Police and other support organisations placed the highest priority on making sure that everyone in the borough feel welcome and safe. She told the audience: “It is very important for you to report any incidents that worry you so you can be given help and advice how to best deal with them.”
Sutton’s Borough Commander, Dave Stringer endorsed the Leader’s comments: “Our police officers are here to support you and to give you our advice and to encourage you to report if you feel you have been a victim of crime.”
Olivia Griffin, a Sutton Mencap trainer, said: “It is so important to tell someone you trust if you have been abused, even if it is name calling, as this targeting needs to stop. It is also important that everyone, including parents and carers realise the police want to know about this, however small you think it may be. It is not something we should just accept.”