This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
"Stop abuse of the disabled"
Police have launched a campaign to protect disabled people from abuse while they are travelling on buses.
Leicestershire's Chief Constable Simon Cole said people with various disabilities have told his officers they are sometimes singled out for abuse on public transport.
Two of Leicestershire's largest bus companies, Arriva and First, have now agreed to display the Stamp It Out campaign poster in their vehicles.
Police hope the posters, which are part of a wider campaign to highlight hate crimes, will encourage victims and witnesses to come forward, to help bring perpetrators to justice.
Mr Cole, who speaks for the Association of Chief Police Officers on disability issues, said: "If you carry out any consultation with people who have disabilities, they will tell you about problems they have experienced on public transport.
"This has a knock-on effect on their lives which the rest of us should be ashamed of.
"Public transport puts people who don't know each other in a confined space and that sometimes leads to incidents.
"This campaign will raise awareness of this issue and encourage people to report any bullying or harassment incidents to us and we will do something about it.
"The campaign is called Stamp It Out for a good reason. There is no place for any form of hate crime in Leicester."
A number of people who use services provided by learning disability charity Mencap attended yesterday's launch in Upper Brown Street, Leicester city centre.
They also spoke of their own experiences of bullying while using public transport.
Darren Bakewell, 48, of Braunstone, Leicester, said: "I was abused on a bus once. A man pushed me off and I fell on the ground.
"I was hurt and didn't know what to do, but a woman who was on the bus and had seen what happened called the police for me.
"The police dealt with him for what he had done to me."
Ranjit Singh, 46, who lives in the Narborough Road area of Leicester, said: "It is important the police take this seriously – everyone should be able to travel on a bus in peace."
Steve Smith, area business manager for Arriva in Leicestershire, said: "We're urging all bus companies, their workers and passengers to be community spirited and report any abuse experienced on buses, whether directed at them or another person."
Deputy city mayor Rory Palmer said: "There is no place for anti-social behaviour on buses or anywhere else.
"Abusive and bullying behaviour will not be tolerated.
"By working together in partnership, across the council, police and transport providers, we will stamp out this unacceptable behaviour."To report hate crime, contact Leicestershire police on 101 or, in an emergency, 999.
Alternatively, you can visit: www.stamp-it-out.co.uk
I posted about my own experience of this launch event on the blog yesterday. I can be seen in the photo above - if you know what you're looking for!