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So called 'Mate Crime' conference held in Sunderland

Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's

7:56am 22nd January 2018
(Updated 8:23am 22nd January 2018)

Northumbria Police and South Tyneside Council are to highlight so-called 'Mate Crime' in the North East, at Sunderland University throughout today.

It where people befriend others to take advantage or exploit the vulnerable.

Local cases include the murder of Brent Martin in Town End Farm in 2007, who was killed by three men over a five pound bet.

Graham Littlewood from South Tyneside council who've organised today event.

The multi-agency conference is aimed at tackling mate crime against people with learning disabilities.

The #WhoRYa conference will see various agencies gather to help raise awareness of mate crime and explore how they can work together more effectively to tackle the issue.

The conference is being organised by South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board in partnership with the University of Sunderland, South Tyneside Ability Football Club, charity Your Voice Counts, neighbouring authorities, Northumbria Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.

Councillor Moira Smith, Chair of the South Tyneside Community Safety Partnership, said:

"It is vital that vulnerable people are given as much opportunity to live independent and healthy lives as any other member of society."

"Sadly, with more independence comes more risk, with people with learning disabilities particularly susceptible to incidents of mate crime. Perpetrators will usually take their money, abuse their property and betray their so-called friendship with victims usually unaware they are being exploited. Extreme examples of mate crime involving physical attack and far worse can be seen in the shocking deaths of Lee Irving, Jimmy Prout and Brent Martin from our region."

"We will be using this conference to get across a very strong message among agencies that we all need to work together to help protect the vulnerable members in our communities from this despicable crime and do what we can to stop this from happening in the future."

The conference is taking place at the University of Sunderland and marks ten years to the day since the convictions for the murder of Brent Martin from Townend Farm.

Professionals attending the conference will reflect on the case of Brent Martin and that of Newcastle man Lee Irving as they hear from local and national speakers including expert Rod Landman from the Association for Real Change (ARC).

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