A CHARITY has chosen Calderdale as a pilot area to raise awareness of mate crime.
Mate crime is where someone with learning difficulties is targeted by people wanting to exploit them.
The charity ARC - the Association for Real Change - will be working with police, Calderdale Adult Safeguarding and schools to look at how to make those with a learning disability safer.
Project worker David Grundy said: "People with learning difficulties can live quite independently, which increases the risks of them being befriended and exploited by people who want to take advantage.
Mate crime can be anything from asking someone with learning disabilities at a bus stop for a cigarette, or taking them to a pub and making them buy all the drinks. The exploitation could also be sexual.
"There are some really horrendous cases of things like that going on."
Mr Grundy said there are no figures or statistics for how prevalent the problem is.
"We know it happens throughout the country all the time but in most cases, the victims don't even know it's happening. They can't identify it themselves."
Mr Grundy, who lives in Halifax, has enlisted the help of Michael Mitchell and Sarah Leach, who have learning difficulties, to promote ways of reporting mate crime and speaking to the relevant services in Calderdale to make them aware of the issue.
Together with Calderdale Council, the charity has organised four free half-day sessions for people with learning disabilities, family and staff at the Lower Edge Resource Centre, Rastrick, on November 29 and January 27.
To find out more, or to find out where to report mate crimes in Calderdale, visit www.arcsafety.net or contact Mr Grundy on 07931 116099.