Increasing awareness on disability issues requires patience and tenacity. You really need a commitment of understanding that the changes are going to take time.
Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, Duluth, Minnesota
A byproduct of improving services to crime victims with disabilities is an increase in the number of crimes reported by this population. This increase will not necessarily mean that more crimes are being committed in your community, but that you and your partners have been effective in removing some of the barriers to reporting crimes.
Be very cautious about confidentiality in tracking and documenting disabilities. Disabilities can be and are used against people in court and in child custody cases. The pilot sites were extremely careful not to attach disability status to actual names in databases or case files.
Setting up a system to track these reports of crime takes time but also brings benefits. You may find, as the pilot sites did, that you are providing services to more persons with a larger variety of disabilities than you at first realized. Tracking and reporting crimes against persons with disabilities can focus community attention on improving services to this underserved population.
Step 5 involves the following tasks:
- Educate staff on the definition of disability.
- Develop a tracking system.
- Train staff to use the system.
- Compile the tracked information regularly.
- Share the information.