Harassment of people with learning disabilities: service user experiences and models of response, support and prevention (update)
Lemos&Crane is working with the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities and with support from The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation on a three-year action research project to explore service users’ experiences of harassment and to develop models of response, support and prevention.
Organisations taking part in the first phase of the research - and currently interviewing people with learning disabilities about their experiences - include Cheshire Constabulary, Chesterfield Law Centre, Choice Support, Community Integrated Care, Essex Police, Grapevine Coventry and Warwickshire, KeyRing, Lincolnshire Learning Disability Partnership Board, Liverpool Mutual Homes, Metropolitan Support Trust, Michael Batt Foundation, Norfolk County Council, Outward, Salvation Army, Southampton City Council, Southern Housing Group and Waverley Borough Council. Also playing a major part in the research is a reference group involving people with learning disabilities.
Previously, our preliminary survey of organisations working with people with learning disabilities indicated disturbingly common locations and expressions of harassment including:
- On public transport – verbal abuse and imitative behaviour intended to humiliate, with schoolchildren often being the perpetrators
- Shops and leisure facilities such as museums – shopkeepers and staff losing patience and abusing people with learning disability who they perceive to be rude
- Public places such as shopping precincts – the location for various degrees of ‘mate crime’, people with learning disabilities being approached and ‘befriended’ for financial exploitation (stealing benefit money for example) or, in more extreme cases, for drug-running or sex-working
- Rented accommodation (where people with mild learning disabilities, or undiagnosed conditions,live with little or no support) – people’s flats are ‘taken over by friends’ who hold noisy parties, or who use to property to take or deal drugs
- Residential care or supported living – can be targeted by groups of young people who throw rubbish, break windows, start fires, or intimidate staff by damaging their cars.
An interim and final report will inform the development practical resources to help practitioners support people who experience harassment, respond to incidents in collaboration with other agencies, and deliver community-based prevention strategies.