Vertical Markets

Keep safe scheme

by Mark Rowe

Hertfordshire Police are working with learning disabilities charity Herts People First to build positive relationships with people who have learning disabilities and improve their feelings of safety by introducing more ‘Keep Safe’ premises.

Keep Safe is a community safety scheme that aims to support people with learning disabilities to keep themselves safe and get help in the event of an emergency when out and about. Hertfordshire has about 300 Keep Safe premises and the force is working to increase that.

Retailers, businesses and public services – such as a libraries and community centres – agree to provide people with learning disabilities a place to make a phone call in the event of an emergency to get help from a parent, carer or support worker, the police or another emergency service. Premises signed up to the scheme are displaying an orange ‘Keep Safe’ sticker in their windows.

To set up a new Keep Safe premises, local people with learning disabilities work alongside police officers from their local Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) and Herts People First to identify appropriate locations in their area. Police point out that people with learning disabilities play a role in setting up a safety scheme for the benefit of their community and it also gives them the chance to get to know their local police so they are more comfortable to approach them.

Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Jason Thorne said: “Introducing more Keep Safe premises across the county not only means there are more locations in Hertfordshire for people with learning disabilities to go in an emergency, but our local police teams are also getting the chance to meet and build relationships with these members of our community.

“Sadly, people with learning disabilities can sometimes become victims of disability hate crime – a crime that is motivated simply because of their learning disability. As a result we want to ensure people know they can approach police for support and that we will take them seriously and will treat them with sensitivity. We hope therefore that, through the work of existing Keep Safe premises and by introducing new locations, people with learning disabilities will feel more encouraged to report crime to us should they ever need to.”

Keep Safe Co-ordinator for Herts People First Jane Dellow said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Constabulary to introduce more Keep Safe premises across the county. Some people with learning disabilities say they feel anxious about approaching the police for help but, after working as part of a team alongside their local officers to set up Keep Safe premises, they get the chance to meet the people behind the uniforms and realise there is nothing to fear.

“People with learning disabilities say they really like the Keep Safe community safety scheme. It is very reassuring for them to know where they can get help and support if needed and that premises in their local community are so welcoming of the scheme.”

Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd, said: “Protection of the most vulnerable people in society is a vital part of police work and I want officers to do everything they can to help people with learning disabilities in our community. I am delighted to see that Keep Safe works to not only support these members of our community but it also helps to build lasting relationships with our local officers.

“Hate motivated crime is one of the offences I want to see tackled and reduced. In order to do this, it is vital that victims of disability-related hate crime report incidents and that we do everything we can to make them feel comfortable enough to do this. Through my plans to provide enhanced customer care to members of the public, I am determined to ensure victims of disability hate crime will always be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity.”

Retailers, businesses and public services interested in helping to introduce Keep Safe premises in their local areas should visit the Keep Safe pages on the Hertfordshire Constabulary website at www.herts.police.uk/keepsafe.

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