Gemma Hayter - 19 September 2011

During research for the documentary I presented, Tormented Lives, I came across several instances of 'mate' crime.  'Mate' crime is when a vulnerable person, often with a diagnosed learnng difficulty, is put out in Supported Living in the community, sometimes with as little as one hour's help a day.  Often people are put in flats or bedsits on their own, and they have no way of making friends, and no idea how to judge those who approach them offering the hand of 'friendship'.  Time and again I came across people whose benefits were stolen every week, who had been sexually and physically abused and who continued to trust the evil people who had befriended them.


We need to recognise that there is a difference between a physical and a mental disability, and make policy accordingly.  There is a politically correct presumption of competence, and a disability rights movement which has moved away from labelling people, seeing it as an infringement of their human rights.  Surely people with a mental disability have a human right to be looked after, protected and safe.  With current policy there is no acknowledgement that adults can be vulnerable, and do not necessarily have the competence to survive on their own in society.


We need to change the way we think, and campaign for small, protected and intentional communities, where vulnerable adults can live in safety and friendship.