Shropshire Paralympics gold medallist Mickey Bushell has lent his support to a new police campaign aimed at tackling disability hate crime in the county.
The 22-year-old, from Arleston, Wellington, is the star of a new poster which will be displayed on Arriva buses across Shropshire. It is part of West Mercia Police’s ‘We’re All Human’ awareness campaign.
The initiative aimed at increasing awareness of disability hate crime – one of the most under-reported offences.
Since April, West Mercia Police has recorded more than 50 disability hate crime offences, and a further 21 incidents.
This is a 76 per cent increase on the same period the previous year, when 30 offences and 15 incidents were reported.
Speaking at the event’s launch, Mickey, who was awarded an MBE for his services to disabled sport this year, said that although he had never been a victim of hate crime, he was keen to highlight the issue.
“I think the campaign is good because I feel there’s a lot of people out there that feel they can’t speak out and maybe having this will help them realise they’re not alone and that they should speak up,” he said.
“I don’t actually use public transport and in general I haven’t experienced negativity because I’m disabled, however I think attitudes can always be changed for the better on a lot of topics; not just disability. The campaign has already seen fantastic support.
“After the London games, I feel people’s attitudes have changed towards disability. People get what disabled sport is all about now and they really got behind us.”
The athlete was joined at the launch by Sue Wood, chairman of the Shropshire Wheelchair Users Group. She said: “Nasty incidents can put off disabled people from using public transport.”
The campaign is masterminded by Sergeant Ed Hancox of West Mercia Police.