Mate crime – advice for all

Mate Crime is a form of hate crime and can become a very serious form of abuse.

Mate Crime is defined as the exploitation, abuse or theft from any person at risk from those they consider to be their friends. Those that commit such abuse or theft are often referred to as ‘fake friends’.

People with disabilities, particularly those with learning disabilities, are often the targets of this type of crime. In some cases victims of mate crime have been badly harmed or even killed.

There are different forms of mate crime, for example:

Learning disability and mate crime
People with learning disabilities may be more vulnerable to mate crimes. They may be living very isolated lives, but – like everyone – need friends.

This need is easily exploited. In addition, many people with learning disabilities haven’t had the usual opportunities to become ‘streetwise’ when growing up. Incidents can therefore be more likely to take place when they are in the community, on public transport or using services without support.

Features of mate crime
Mate crimes are likely to happen in private, often in the victim’s own accommodation. They can also happen via social media, where victims are financially or sexually exploited after being befriended online.

Mate crimes often occur within long-term relationships, which may have started out as genuine friendships. They can appear to be real friendships to many observers. Social workers can be so delighted that a person with learning disabilities has a ‘friend’ that they don’t question the relationship any further.

Identifying mate crime
Indicators of mate crime can be similar to other forms of abuse. Potential signs include:

More information
For more information on keeping safe visit the Making Manchester Safer website

The Personalised Support Team at Nottingham Community Housing have produced a video to raise awareness of Hate Crime and ‘Mate Crime’.   Nottingham Community Housing are happy for colleagues and partners to share this with as wider audience as possible – you can access the video using the link:

Advice and information on what Mate Crime is and how social workers can identify it from the Community Care website

The ‘Friend or Fake’ booklet, an easy-read booklet about Hate Crime and Mate Crime produced by the Association for Real Change (ARC) can be found on their website

Safety Net helps local agencies develop systems to tackle Mate Crime – for more information visit the Arc Safety website

Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
For prosecution guidance about Disability Hate Crime and other crimes against disabled people, visit the CPS website at

See also our Hate Crime resource and Fraud, scams & safety resource.


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