As yet another disabled person dies as a result of bullying in their homes, are authorities doing enough?

Quiet enjoyment of property, a right to live free of fear, a right to protection from crime – these seem to be pretty basic human rights that disabled people are not being entitled to.

In the most recent case where a man with a learning disability collapsed and died after continued and sustained harassment at his home from local youths, is yet another case where police have been informed and involved, but the disabled person has died anyway.

Police in this case were keen to point out in interviews that they had “done a lot of work” with the victim, including waiting in his house, installing CCTV cameras etc. The bullies’ response to the CCTV cameras was to wear hoods and balaclavas – we know, because we saw it on tv – so what happened then? What did police do when they saw that footage, surely they could have had regular patrols – arrests under hate crime legislation or public order offences.

I can see how the bullies made it difficult for the police, i can see how the police took positive action like the CCTV cameras, but i cannot see how the man was still allowed to be subject to bullying on a regular basis until he died.

Nobody can be complacent here – the police cannot congratulate themselves on “hard work” when the victim dies, but although the failure to protect the individual and to maintain civil order and neighbourhood safety is a police responsibility, it is also a responsibility for local councils and housing authorities, for local schools and neighbours, and for local communities.

How much damage was done when we all so readily embraced the idea that there is no such thing as communities? Surely as human beings we have a responsibility to our neighbours, but we stopped doing things at community level, stopped knowing who are neighbours are, made it that much more difficult for us to intervene when someone in our street needs help or is being bullied.

Perhaps we need more opportunities to meet and socialise with the people accross the road or corridor, the people down the street or in the next block, because history tells us that when communities band together to let bullies know that an injury to one is an injury to all, they soon stop coming around.


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