Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Capital opens hate crime agency

Jimmy McIntosh
Jimmy McIntosh has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user

A disabled rights campaigner has launched Scotland's first agency to fight hate crime in Edinburgh after suffering decades of abuse.

Jimmy McIntosh, who has cerebral palsy, joined councillors and police officers to set up a task force to try to put a stop to intimidation and violence.

Mr McIntosh revealed how he had once suffered daily attacks from children over a period of five years.

He hopes the scheme will help stop others from the same experience.

He said: "Children would be throwing stones and eggs at my windows up to 10 times a day.

"They would frighten me and my wife and when we went out they would make fun of me, just because I was in a wheelchair."

They then took the rats and pushed them through the windows
Jimmy McIntosh
Disabled rights campaigner
And the 69-year-old told how the abuse even led to dead rats being pushed through his bedroom windows at his home in the Leith area of the city.

He said: "One time they went down to the water and found some dead rats which they put in my garden.

"They then took the rats and pushed them through the windows. It was horrible and really scared both of us."

Now, Mr McIntosh, who has an MBE for his years of championing disabled rights, lives in sheltered accommodation with his wife Elizabeth after spending more than 40 years in care.

On Thursday he gave a speech at Edinburgh City Chambers at the launch of the first multi-agency to tackle crimes motivated by hate.

Hate crime is seen as offences against others which are based on disability, sexual orientation, age, faith, gender and race.

Over a period of 20 months, some 2,194 hate crimes were committed and reported in the capital with more than half being racially motivated.

The 'Take control against hate crime' forum is aiming to open up access for victims to report the crime so that steps can be made to deal with perpetrators.

Appropriate channels

Up to 40 remote reporting centres are being created at some health centres and community centres to encourage victims to speak out.

Paul Edie, chairman of the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership, said: "We think there is substantial under-reporting of hate crime as people don't necessarily recognise themselves as victims.

"They often feel wrongly that it's their fault and they don't report it.

"We also need to try and change people's perceptions and attitudes so that they don't carry out these crimes in future. These crimes just will not be tolerated."

Supt Ivor Marshall, from Lothian and Borders Police, said hate crime would be taken very seriously.

He said: "Our message to anyone committing hate crime is that there will be a robust response and they will be prosecuted through the appropriate channels.

"We want to reinforce the message that hate crime will not be tolerated in any guise."

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