A DVD highlighting the harrowing experiences people with learning disabilities have suffered has been launched to raise awareness of the problem.

Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger wants to use the 15-minute film as a training tool to show the true impact of crimes against disabled people and hopefully address the levels of under-reporting across Teesside.

Last year there were only 23 reports of disability hate crime incidents, however police and support charities believe victims aren’t coming forward, either because of fear or that they are not aware incidents are classed as a hate crime.

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The short film has taken months of planning and features real life stories brought to life by IMPACT Drama Group, part of Middlesbrough Community Inclusion Service, who have directed the film and featured in the case studies.

Mr Coppinger said: “I’ve spoken to many people about disability hate crime and what’s clear is that the impact is much wider reaching than just the victim themselves as it causes turmoil for carers and families.

“It’s disappointing that people aren’t coming forward to report incidents and this must be addressed. We are proud to have been involved in the planning and development of the DVD, which is a fantastic tool in order to improve the service to victims and I would like to thank the members of IMPACT Drama Group for helping to raise awareness in this way.

“Cleveland is not unique in the fact that disability hate crime is under-reported but as a force we are dealing with it head on by raising awareness of ways in which to report the crime and enhance our training to officers and staff.

“Incidents and crimes are can take the form of name calling in the street, serious assaults, and deliberate deception of vulnerable people with disabilities. These are completely unacceptable and it’s important that officers can identify where a crime has a disability hate element and how to raise awareness of reporting with victims, carers and families.”

Bus company Arriva will also educate drivers about the warning signs of hate crime and bullying of disabled people.

Linda Lord, from Middlesbrough Community Inclusion Service, added: “We have been working closely with Inclusion North to raise awareness of disability hate crime and hate crime incidents with people with learning disabilities, their families and carers. We hope that by raising the profile of disability hate crime more people with learning disabilities, along with members of the public will report disability hate crime incidents.”