Dean Kamitsis: The Channel 4 clip that raised questions about Deaf Hate Crime (BSL)

Posted on July 29, 2016

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Post-Brexit, Hate Crime is on the increase in the UK. According to the latest statistics made available by the National Police Chiefs Council, there has been a 20 percent increase in hate crime between mid-June and mid-July this year compared to the same period from last year.

Watch this clip in BSL, signed by Dean, below (or directly on Facebook by clicking here).

From across the UK, there were 6,293 hate crimes reported from mid-June to mid-July. In reality though, the Police will not have a completely accurate figure because many people don’t report incidents either due to being scared or feeling ashamed.

Many people also don’t know what constitutes a hate crime, and so merely brush the incidents off thinking there’s nothing they can do – when in fact there is.

Click here to view the video below directly on Facebook.

On the 21st of July, Channel 4 aired a program called “999 What’s Your ‪Emergency‬”, which featured a ‪Deaf‬ chap called Stuart. Stuart had been ‪targeted‬ because of his ‪deafness‬, and was harassed and victimised by neighbours over a period of time. In this day and age, what happened to him is unacceptable.

Three months after the initial incident which was filmed, he was moved and is now much happier – but he misses his friend. I believe that it’s not solving the problem; the perpetrators were not dealt with – it merely moved Stuart away from the problem. The problem still exists. The root issue is still there.

Thinking about it, I can’t help but wonder how it managed to get that far, and why the ‪support‬ mechanisms/safety nets that he had – had failed him so badly. The police in the clip mention Social Services – so he’s obviously in the system somewhere – why was it allowed to go on for so long? Why weren’t Police supporting him prior to this callout? Why was there no mediation?

Anyway, I downloaded the program and edited it so that it only featured him so that I could share it on Deaf Aware’s Facebook page – and in under 24 hours it received 23,000 views and reached 49,000 people. It got shared far and wide across the globe.

People raised various issues within the clip, including the Police’s use of out-dated and offensive terms (being Deaf and dumb and Deaf-Mute) – they also didn’t arrange for an interpreter to be present when they were questioning him, so quite rightly, Stuart was shaking and fearful (which he later talks about in the 1:1 interview with the TV reporters).

This shows that the Police have a lot of work to do, in order to interact with the d/Deaf community. Deaf Awareness needs to be raised as an issue that they need to work on urgently; not only BSL but general deaf awareness aswell. The d/Deaf community needs to feel confident that they will be able to interact with the Police services, and know that they are being given the information that they need – in a way that is suitable for the person being interviewed at the scene. A pen and paper will not suffice. For many, English may not be their first language, so writing something down does not mean it will be understood. It is also a very long-winded way of having a conversation.

What would be interesting to know, is if it was logged as a hate crime, and if not – why not?

Dean Kamitsis is a severely deaf web developer and lives in Preston. As a BSL user, he is passionate about equality, and believes in access for all deaf people; campaigning for both BSL access and the written word. Dean was proudly part of the Disabled Person’s Organisation, Disability Online (now closed), which won the Community Organisation Award at the National Diversity Awards in 2012.

The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.

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