Disabled sailor is angry at offensive sticker on car

DISABILITIES CHAMPION Multiple record holder, Geoff Holt
DISABILITIES CHAMPION Multiple record holder, Geoff Holt
Chief Inspector Sharon Woolrich

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A RECORD-BREAKING disabled sailor has reported an offensive sticker to the police after seeing it on the back of a car at Gunwharf Quays.

Geoff Holt took a photo of the sticker, which shows the symbol for a wheelchair user as part of a swear word, and put it on Hampshire Constabulary’s Facebook page, asking if he could report it as a ‘disability hate crime’.

The 47-year-old wheelchair user is frequently in Gunwharf in Portsmouth as the charity he helped set up, Wetwheels, has its fully accessible modified boat based there.

He said: ‘I couldn’t believe it when I saw it, it was disgusting. I saw the car’s owner from a distance and it was a young guy. He probably thought it was a funny sticker with a rude word in it and I don’t think he realised how offensive it is.

‘I’m taking out little kids in wheelchairs and veterans who’ve lost their legs through Gunwharf, they shouldn’t have to be exposed to this sort of thing. It’s the mindset that thinks this is acceptable that we need to challenge.’

And Mr Holt, from Shedfield, was left dismayed by the response of some after it was put on Facebook, with people using offensive terms for the disabled and mocking him.

He added: ‘I’m totally for freedom of speech, but there’s got to be decency, and there’s got to be rules in a civilised society and respect for each other.’

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesman said they had advised Mr Holt ‘to make a formal report to police of a car sticker he found offensive towards wheelchair users’.

He added: ‘Enquiries are under way to contact and speak with the owner of the car.

‘The report of this sticker and subsequent remarks reacting to its photograph, posted on Hampshire Constabulary’s Facebook page, are being assessed to identify whether any criminal offences have been committed.’

Anyone with information can contact police by phoning 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

For more information about Hampshire Constabulary and disability, go to hampshire.police.uk/internet/advice-and-information/abuse-against-the-person/disability-hate-crime