the CAB- champion of disability advocacy or maze of untrained ableism ?

the CAB- champion of disability advocacy or maze of untrained ableism ?

Mr Conroy at Inverness CAB tells autistic people – Go away “you seem able” to do it yourself.

The experience of reporting a hate crime through the Inverness Badenoch and Strathspey Citizens Advice Bureau turned into a drawn-out and frustrating process. What was initially perceived as a straightforward procedure, unfortunately, evolved into a four-month ordeal filled with confusion and obfuscation.

The situation began with clarity and simplicity: I was to provide a URL to a detailed hate crime report, ensuring the police could access comprehensive insights into the incident. The instruction given to the Bureau was explicit with some characters, a URL and the following statement: “this is all you should enter in the 2000 character space.”

However, the response from the Bureau, particularly from Deputy Manager Martin Conroy, introduced unwarranted complexity and confusion. Conroy’s decision to shut down the cases, citing reasons that contradicted our initial understanding, was perplexing. He stated that the submission had exceeded the character limit and included photographs and videos, even though the communication provided was merely a URL link and a password, which they previously asked us to provide.

This interaction suggests not just a breakdown in communication but a deliberate disregard for the previously agreed-upon method of submitting the hate crime report. The phrase used by Conroy, highlighting an inability to “paste pictures into a text box,” further adds to the confusion, as no such request was made by myself or my friend. The sequence of events hints at a willful act of obfuscation, most probably triggered by the mention of seeking compensation for the ordeal. This experience sheds light on the challenges and barriers faced by individuals when reporting hate crimes, especially when the reporting process is made unnecessarily complex or when the support entities do not adhere to their own guidelines or the needs of the complainants. This was not the first time they pressured us to shut down the complaint over the four month period.

Adding to the frustration was Conroy’s remark, “You appear to be competent and capable of completing an online form so, should you wish to submit your own report, you can do so here.” This comment, along with another statement, “you seem to be able,” not only trivialized the complexities and accessibility barriers faced but also dismissed the necessity of the reasonable adjustments previously agreed upon and the reason why these places are third party reporting centres in the first place. Such statements are not just dismissive; they are direct discrimination, failing to recognize the unique challenges and support required.

The suggestion that I could navigate the system alone, without the promised support, implied a disregard for the challenges individuals with disabilities often encounter in such processes. The assertion that I couldn’t “paste pictures into a text box” was particularly baffling, as the original request only involved submitting a URL and a password.

This entire episode highlights significant concerns about the handling of sensitive reports and the necessity for empathy, respect, and legal compliance in processes that are meant to support individuals seeking justice. It underscores the importance of not just adhering to agreed procedures but also respecting the unique needs of each individual, especially when dealing with cases as sensitive as hate crimes. The hope is that sharing this experience will encourage a move towards more transparent, accessible, and respectful practices in handling such crucial matters.

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