The I’m Not Laughing campaign, which aims to put a stop to disability hate crime across Bolton by raising awareness of it and the impact it has upon victims, was launched on Saturday (June 25).
Guests packed out the Bar in Nelson Square to hear speeches from Stephen Brookes MBE, Superintendent Paul Rumney and 19-year-old Bolton resident Dale Kellett, who appeared in the campaign posters located in the town centre.
The Mayor of Bolton Councillor Noel Spencer presented official accreditations to licensees that had completed the training earlier in the week.
Officers gave licensees inputs on their legal and moral obligations under the 2010 Equality Act regarding disability hate crime. Accredited premises can now be recognised by window stickers and staff badges.
The launch coincided with National Learning Disability Week (20 – 26 June) and the implementation of Mencap’s ‘Stand By Me’ campaign, which aims to challenge the police, courts and criminal justice system to end disability hate crime.
Sgt Paul Ellis started the campaign after receiving a letter from a young woman who had suffered verbal abuse over a physical disability during a night out in the town centre with her partner.
He said: “The launch night was a huge success – the Bar was packed out and those who attended heard some very poignant speeches from those affected by disability hate crime.
“The campaign aims to put the issue in clear and simple terms, disability hate crime is unacceptable, no one deserves to be subjected to it and nobody deserves to get away with it.
“Hopefully, we can continue to gather support and promote this message. Remember - everyone can play their part in stopping this.”
Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Cleaner, Greener, Safer Councillor Elaine Sherrington, added: “We want everyone to feel welcome when they visit Bolton town centre and having a disability should not mean that you fear being verbally or physically abused when you come into town. This campaign will raise awareness of disability hate crime and educate people that it’s totally unacceptable and we’re fully behind it.”
Since the beginning of June, billboard posters have been displayed in prominent locations and leaflets telling the stories of victims have been given out across the town to raise awareness.
A number of local celebrities and sporting stars have already backed the campaign and signed the pledge, including current president of the International Paralympics Committee and former athlete, Sir Philip Craven, cricketer Saj Mahmood, Paralympic athlete Oscar ‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius, swimmer Rachael Latham, national speaker on disability Stephen Brookes MBE and Great Britain’s male and female Paralympic basketball teams
A facebook site, which has been set up at already has over 350 likes.
The campaign was developed by the Be Safe partnership. This is the partnership of eight key organisations: Greater Manchester Police, Bolton Council, Greater Manchester Probation Service, Greater Manchester Police Authority, Bolton Primary Care Trust, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Greater Manchester West Mental Health Trust and HMP Forest Bank working together with the people of Bolton to make life safer and better for everyone.