Why we need Police Liaisons for the Disability Community

Police liaison officers are an important roll to both the service and to the community. Particularly for specific community groups who can often feel isolated or segregated from the general community. When we have community groups like this, they become less likely to report crimes against them.

Police Liaison Officers are employed by the Queensland Police Service to establish and maintain a positive rapport between culturally specific communities and the Queensland Police Service. The role of Police Liaison Officers is to promote trust and understanding through their liaison role by assisting the community and police to:

  • reduce and prevent crime;

  • divert people from the criminal justice system;

  • advise and educate police officers on culture and cultural issues; and

  • improve community knowledge of  law and order issues and policing services.Source: QPS Website

 

Throughout this campaign despite our continuous efforts to engage and work with law enforcement agencies, the general feedback we’ve had from the community is that Police don’t take our issues seriously enough. They’re overloaded with bigger issues to deal with and things like disability parking are way down the list of priorities unless you come across extraordinary officers such as Senior Constable Christie May of Queensland Police who has been our strongest advocate.

Fear of being able to communicate with police effectively is also another concern that has been raised amongst the disability community which needs to be addressed.

It’s certainly not that the disability community feels any crime committed against them is more important than the same happening to anyone else, but that they are less likely to report it for a number of reasons. By having liaisons who have been trained in communicating with people with disabilities and understanding the issues they face, it makes that community of people trust the person they speak to more without fear of judgement or being treated less significantly.

The statistics of crimes where people with disabilities are the victim are outrageous when the unreported incidences are included. Some examples are:

There is growing evidence that women with a disability are more likely to experience violence. For example, 90% of Australian women with an intellectual disability have been subjected to sexual abuse. (Source:  Woman With Disabilities Australia (WWDA), 2004)

Disabled people are more likely than non-disabled people to experience hate crimes. And perpetrators are more likely to receive leniency in sentencing if the victim is a disabled person. (Source: http://wwda.org.au/issues/viol/viol1995/hate/)

People with disabilities are being routinely denied the basic human right of access to justice. (Source: http://apo.org.au/research/beyond-doubt-experiences-people-disabilities-reporting-crime)

People with an intellectual disability are almost three times more likely than those without a disability to be victims of physical assault, sexual assault and robbery. (Source: http://www.aic.gov.au/media_library/publications/tandi_pdf/tandi060.pdf)

It is well documented that people with disability, especially girls and women with disability, are over-represented as victims of crime. People with disability are more likely to be victims of violence, fraud and sexual assault. They are also more likely to experience multiple episodes of all forms of abuse and neglect. (Source: http://www.pwd.org.au/issues/preventing-violence.html)

 

So it’s about time. Lets start asking the Police Minister in every state to appoint

Police Liaison officers for people with disabilities in Australia.*

Share the link to this post with your State MP, the Minister for Police/Emergency Services

and the Police Commissioner.

 

*Victoria recently began an inquiry into the handling of disabled victims of crime after a report identified high number of cases being mismanaged and as a result Disability Liaison officers are being trained.

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