Mate crime is a form of disability hate crime.
It happens when someone deliberately befriends a vulnerable or disabled person for the sole purpose of exploiting, abusing or taking advantage of them.
Perpetrators typically prey upon people with learning and physical difficulties, those with mental health or substance abuse issues, and older people.
They may spend considerable time building up a trusting relationship with the other person before they start abusing them.
Recognising the signs of mate crime
Mate crime usually happens in private and can be difficult to spot.
The person who is being befriended may welcome the friendship or relationship and not recognise it as abusive.
Because mate crime can involve physical, emotional, sexual and financial abuse the telltale signs will vary from person to person, but may include:
- unexplained injuries
- changes in behaviour, e.g. withdrawal from social activities
- being short of money
- things going missing from their home.
Crime or not?
Sometimes the first indication that mate crime is taking place is when the victim is caught committing a crime, for example, stealing from a shop or keeping watch while a robbery takes place.
Not all instances of mate crime involve illegal acts like stealing or physical abuse; however, they will still have a negative impact on the victim.
For example, a young man with learning disabilities whose new friends turn up on benefits day to ‘help’ him to spend his money on drink and cigarettes.
Safeguarding is everyone’s business
If you are concerned that someone you know might be the victim of mate crime, contact your council’s local Safeguarding Team.
Reporting mate crime
Contact Report Hate, call the police on 101 or report it to the police online.
In an emergency always ring 999.