People with special needs are still at risk from hate crimes, according Nikki Reid, the sister of murder victim Gemma Hayter.
Nikki, who’s sister Gemma was murdered on a disused railway line in Rugby in 2010, featured on BBC current affairs programme Inside Out on Monday evening discussing how the care system has changed since 2010.
The programme focused on the occurrence of mate crime, where supposed friends of people with special needs commit hate crimes against them and take advantage of their learning difficulties.
Nikki told the BBC: “I’m still concerned about people with special needs being thrown into society once they reach adulthood. It’s like throwing a rabbit to the wolves, you wouldn’t do it.
“If people needed support before they were 18, they will need it afterwards.”
After being beaten and bullied, Gemma was found dead with 55 injuries. Five people were sent to jail for the crime for a total of 85 years.
An inquiry found that there were 22 missed opportunities to protect her. Since the murder, Warwickshire’s entire safeguarding system has been overhauled.
While there was no evidence the case could have been prevented, it raised a wider debate about how society protects people with learning difficulties.
Nikki added: “Apparently the authorities have learnt lessons. As far as I’m concerned they’re lessons that are so obvious they shouldn’t need learning. The police looked after her brilliantly, but there was no follow up help from other agencies.”
The programme revealed that mate crime was one of the most vastly under reported crimes in existence, with Warwickshire Police recording just eight crimes in a year. Nikki told the program: “Just eight cases? I can name far more than eight.”