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Report Mate Crime to help crack down on fake friends

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Report Mate Crime to help crack down on fake friends
22 February 2017

Barnsley Safeguarding Adults Board wants to raise awareness of how to report Mate Crime, after a man with learning disabilities was brutally attacked by two ‘friends’ in Leicester, leaving him with life changing injuries and a fear to leave the house after dark.

Mate Crime usually exploits people with learning disabilities who are targeted by individuals and groups who pretend to be their friends to take advantage of them by taking money off them, getting them to pay for items for them, using their property and who threaten or use violence if the adult tries to get them to leave them alone

Often going unnoticed due to the apparent friendship that the criminal has formed with the victim, Mate Crime is rarely viewed as a crime by those who experience it and even when they do they are still very unlikely to report it.

Mate Crime can lead to the victim being exploited, whether sexually, financially or physically. A person with learning disabilities may be seen as an easy target to bully and abuse with perpetrators often knowing that the victim may not understand or know how to tell someone or report such a crime.

Cllr Margaret Bruff, Cabinet Spokesperson for People (Safeguarding) said: "Victims of Mate Crime can lose material things like goods or money but more than that they lose their confidence and trust in others.

"It can have a terrible detrimental effect on them. I urge all Barnsley residents to be alert to the dangers of this type of behaviour towards vulnerable people and be willing to report it if they see it."

Common trends in mate crime include:

  • Crimes often become regular and target the individual victim or their family/ friends
  • Perpetrators are often predatory ‘friends’, support workers, acquaintances, neighbours, local residents, school children, groups of young adults or family
  • Incidents are likely to escalate in severity and frequency
  • Multiple perpetrators can be involved in incidents condoning and encouraging the main offender, often filming on mobile phones and sending pictures to friends or social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or YouTube 
  • False accusations may occur calling the victim a paedophile or ‘grass’
  • There may be repeated attacks with excessive violence
  • Cruelty, humiliation, degrading treatment

Some of the main signs or symptoms people you might see in a victim of Mate crime are:

  • Lack of confidence and self-esteem
  • Anxiety and unhappiness
  • Withdrawal 
  • Subservient behaviour and a constant seeking of approval of so called ‘friends’.

Reports of Mate Crime can be made in complete confidence by calling 01226 773300.

Barnsley Safeguarding Week, 3 to 7 July will be dedicated to raising awareness about issues such as this, along with other ways to make sure children, young people and adults are kept safe