Lord Willy Bach and friends from LCiL (Leicestershire Centre for Integrated Living) try out the travel cards
Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach launched a new information card scheme today (2 Dec) alerting public transport workers to vulnerable passengers who need extra help in a bid to tackle hate crime.
More than 20,000 Better Journey Cards are set to be distributed to police stations, councils and at community events across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland to let drivers know that a person might need a little more assistance when using public transport.
The innovative scheme, which will be unveiled today by partners at the Social Media Café at West End Centre in the City, is part of a package of measures funded by the PCC to provide more help to potential victims of hate crime and send out a powerful message that intolerance and hatred has no place in society.
There are currently 22,730 people living in the county who are registered as disabled – 9,939 of whom live in Leicester City alone.
Public transport is vital to enabling disabled people to get out and about, attend college, work or socialise and maintain their independence. However, research shows that it is also a high-risk area for hate incidents to occur. If vulnerable people lose confidence when travelling and fear public transport, the impact on their lives and independence could be significant.
The Better Journey Cards, which have been developed by First Travel, are aimed at letting a driver know when a passenger needs extra help and offering them a safer journey.
Willy Bach said: “It is our duty to pull out all the stops to offer greater protection for vulnerable members of our community who face the indignity of physical or verbal abuse simply because of perceived differences.
“Leicestershire is a vibrant county and home to a multitude of diverse people, cultures and traditions. It’s simply shocking that intolerance, distrust and prejudice continue to permeate our communities and I urge local people to stand together against all forms of hate.
“Public transport is a lifeline for so many disabled people living within Leicestershire and I’m determined that we offer them the very best support and protection to be able to continue their daily lives with confidence and self-esteem.
“The primary aim of the new Safer Journey Cards is to reassure all vulnerable passengers that frontline transport staff are committed to putting their needs and safety first and that if they need help, it will be there.”
Nigel Eggleton, Managing Director of First Leicester said: “Our Safe Journey Cards and Better Journey Cards offer customers with a way of discreetly communicating with our drivers. Quite often people want to ask for assistance, but they’re unsure how best to do it.
“While customers can, of course, just ask for any help they need, not everyone finds this easy, or is able to speak clearly. In these instances, these cards give people a way of asking for assistance in a simple, easy and discreet way.
“The feedback we’ve received in Leicester from those using them has been really positive. However, they are not widely used. We want to remind customers of their availability, so if a passenger chooses to use them they can travel by bus with more confidence.”
The PCC has been concerned at a reported rise in hate crime incidents and offences across parts of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland following the EU Referendum. He has been keen to demonstrate his support for the continuing efforts by Leicestershire Police and other strategic partners in tackling the issue, pledging funding to Leicester University and Leicestershire Police to develop a new programme for hate crime offenders.
The approach will explore a range of different restorative justice strategies which will look at the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.
The PCC has also commissioned more literature aimed at raising awareness of hate crime and a project to bring the county’s major sporting clubs on board in the fight against it.
The Safer Journey Cards provide passengers with a host of different messages to use depending on their individual needs or disability. One card asks for drivers to alert passengers to their bus stop while another asks them for help taking a seat.
There are also blank message cards enabling passengers to communicate more specifically by writing their own message.
The project complements the existing work of the Keep Safe Group across Leicestershire which has developed Keep Safe Cards containing a vulnerable person’s emergency contact details, medication information and anything else they would like to communicate to public workers.
Posted on Wednesday 30th November 2016