A campaign has been launched to help protect deaf people from becoming the victims of crime – paid for by money seized from criminals.
The North Wales Deaf Association have organised a series of Crime Prevention Workshops thanks to a £5,000 grant from special fund set up by North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Arfon Jones.
The Your Community, Your Choice initiative is also supported by the North Wales Police and Community Trust (PACT).
Much of the money was recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act, using cash seized from offenders with the rest coming from the Police and Crime Commissioner.
It was one of 15 grants totalling over £40,000 given to support schemes by community organisations with an online vote deciding the successful applicants and almost 10,000 votes cast.
The latest of the workshops, which have also been held in Flintshire and Wrexham, was at the Centre of Sign-Sight-Sound in Colwyn Bay and covered safety in the home, the internet, anti-social behaviour, scams and cold callers, domestic violence and hate crimes.
The event, which featured advice from former North Wales Police Detective Constable Ifan Hughes and a question and answer session, was video recorded and is to be posted on social media so that it can be used by others from the nationwide deaf community.
It was attended by Ann Griffith, the Deputy Commissioner, who said: “It is very important that we reach out to all communities in North Wales and this has been very useful for me in raising my awareness of the issues.
“Deaf people do have difficulty accessing crime prevention information which isn’t readily available in British Sign Language (BSL).
“This makes them more liable to be the victims of crime than people with hearing and they are often unsure or unaware how they can report a crime.
“They are also more likely to be a victim of hate crimes and we believe this project addresses issues which have been identified by the deaf community, by providing information and advice on crime prevention that they cannot normally access.
“It’s important that all communities across North Wales, including the deaf, can access information and know how to deal with scams and cold callers as well as what to do in a 999 emergency.
“The Police and Crime Commissioner’s office takes their responsibility towards the deaf community very seriously and we have leaflets on Hate Crime Awareness and How to Report a Crime translated into BSL and available on our website and deaf people can text 999 to a special service in case of emergency.
“We would also like to put the Police and Crime Plan into BSL very soon.”
Lyndon Williams, from Conwy, who has been deaf from birth, videoed the event and also runs iPad courses at the Centre.
He signed: “This has been a really good exercise and has provided a lot of useful information for the deaf community.
“With police officers now carrying video cameras that could also prove useful for the deaf as what they’re signing could be recorded.
Sarah Thomas, Community Access Service Manager for the Centre, said: “We are very grateful to the public of North Wales for voting us this grant which enables us to offer this series of workshops.
“There is a lot going on in North Wales for the deaf community and North Wales Police are very proactive.
“We hold safety meetings here every week with regular guest speakers and the grant is helping us do more.
“It has paid for the interpreters here and for the room and that helps deaf people because 90 per cent of crime prevention material is inaccessible to them, they are a seldom heard group and they are vulnerable.”
PACT chairman David Williams added: “We are delighted that we can assist in the administration of this fund.
“Very appropriately, one of the conditions is that the people who apply for this money have to be doing something that combats anti-social behaviour or addresses crime and disorder in some way.
“The aims Your Community, Your Choice scheme also coincide with the objectives of the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Plan so it creates a virtuous circle.”