I’ve recently been pondering the attitude of the wider public to large people and the abuse and offensive remarks which get thrown our way on a daily basis. It was prompted, need you ask, by someone pointing out to me that I was fat. When I replied that I was already aware of that fact I got an onslaught of offensive comments and foul language, most of which suggested that I should just hurry up and die because I was a blight on humanity. Really made my day, as you can imagine…
Other more reasoned voices have also raised questions though, including an Emergency Ambulance Technician who was deeply upset by the comments and words of a group of onlookers when he was trying to assist a large patient in a public environment. I’ve also been told by a Fireman that their greatest problem in trying to assist heavy people to stand after a fall in public is to prevent people from taking pictures of those in distress.
Anyway, I started looking at the definition of what makes a hate crime, or a hate incident, and whether there was any legal protection for heavier people suffering this kind of attack. I’ve read the Greater Manchester Police Hate Crime Policy (You can find it here) and, ummm, I’m still not entirely sure. It doesn’t specifically mention weight or size but the following is an extract.
Definitions relating to hate incidents and crimes
A hate incident is defined as:
“Any incident, which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person, as being motivated by prejudice or hate.”
A hate crime is defined as:
“Any hate incident, which constitutes a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person, as
being motivated by prejudice or hate.”
What are the hatred motivations?
Greater Manchester Police record hate incidents and crimes that have either been or perceived to have been motivated by hatred due to a person’s:
- Sexual orientation
- or a combination of the above factors
I definitely felt that the comments directed at me were motivated by prejudice or hate – but they didn’t fall into any of the ‘Hatred Motivations’
So – long story short I have sent the following message to the GMP and asked for their comments. (I kept my own size and the abuse I’ve suffered out of the equation because I don’t want the GMP to think I am reporting an incident. This is more a theoretical exploration to find out the legalities of the situation)
I am a Bariatric Consultant and provide training for Medical and associated staff regarding how to care for and deal with heavy people (30 stone plus) I also provide advice and support for heavy people themselves to ensure they receive respectful and dignified care.
Recently at a Conference the question of abuse of fat people in public has been raised and I had to reply that as far as I was aware there was no legislation to provide protection against this. The incident that prompted the discussion was an Emergency Ambulance Technician who was very distressed by the attitude of the general public who were making insulting and offensive comments regarding the patient that they were trying to assist.
After some research I discovered the GMP policy on hate incidents and hate crimes and I wondered what the Police view on this would be? A heavier person out in public might not be disabled but if they were abused because of their size would this be recorded and reported as a hate incident/crime?
If you could provide a response to this question I would be very grateful. If you’d like to find out about my work then my website – www.fatlotsheknows.co.uk – explains more.
Thanks in advance
I’ll keep you posted!
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