St Helens and Knowsley: Working together to support national hate crime awareness week
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This week Merseyside Police is supporting a week of action to encourage communities to come together to join our fight to eliminate hate crime as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
Hate crime can involve people being targeted based on their disability, gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation. Merseyside Police expand these strands further and also monitor hate crime against those who sex work, which is seen as unique but often best practice for the support provided. The force believes that every person in Merseyside has the right to go about their lives without being the target of abusive language or criminal behaviour motivated by hate or prejudice.
Everyone has a role in tackling hate crime and eliminating it from society. We take our role in this extremely seriously but call upon all sections of society to stand with us and state very clearly that these incidents will never be tolerated.
One of the main ways the force looks to proactively tackle the issue is by working with local authorities, education providers, travel companies and businesses to encourage them to call out and challenge hate when they see it. We acknowledge that not all victims of hate crime would wish for police action or for prosecution, which is why the force is keen to drive awareness and methods to confront the issue as and when it happens.
The public can also play a crucial role in spotting hate crime and telling us about it. Information on where such offences are happening is a vital tool in the fight to rid our streets of hate crime. Once we are able to identify offenders, we can make sure we bring them to justice and ultimately ensure we protect all of our communities from being subjected to any hateful behaviour.
To support the week of action, there are a range of activities happening across Merseyside to help prevent hate crime and increase awareness of the support available to anyone affected.
In the St Helens and Knowsley areas, there are various policing and partner activities taking place which include:
Promotion within Whiston and St Helens Hospital to highlight reporting methods
Relaunch of the disability hate crime ambassadors which involves recruiting local councillors from Knowsley councils as ‘hate crime ambassadors’ who will be able to offer support and guidance around hate crime
Various hate crime awareness training with community groups in Knowsley such as members of BIG (Being Involved Group), local asylum seekers and refugees and local care homes
Community outreach events from the Police, Safer Communities Team and Police and Crime Commissioner who will be available to address community concerns around hate crime in areas such as Huyton and Earlestown Market Day.
Superintendent Sarah Kenwright said: “Merseyside has a reputation for being a welcoming, friendly place and there is no place here for hate crime.
“If you are aware of a repeat offender on your street, of an individual or family who are being subjected to hate, or if you see anything online or while out and about, please tell us. We want to actively encourage our communities to be our eyes and ears and firmly believe they play a crucial role in spotting and reporting a hate crime.
Supt Kenwright added: “I would also urge any victim of hate crime in Merseyside to please come forward. It is vital that we give our support to anyone who believes they have been subjected to abuse or left in fear because of who they are, and I want to reassure the public that we will take action against those responsible.
“We have officers and staff dedicated to protecting victims of hate crime who will make sure you will be supported at every step as sensitively as possible.”
Councillor Jeanie Bell, Cabinet Member for Safer, Stronger Communities, said: “We are committed to making St Helens somewhere where there is No Place For Hate and working with our partners at Merseyside Police alongside community groups we continue to campaign for everyone to have the right to live their life free of discrimination.
“No one should live in fear simply because of their race, sexual orientation, religion, disability or gender identity. We all have a role to play in tackling this abhorrent crime by calling out those we know who express unacceptable comments, thoughts and ideas that target people in this way. Most people in our borough are caring and considerate of others so we must come together to make it safe for the people at risk of hate crime.”
Cllr Shelley Powell, Knowsley Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Neighbourhoods said: “Any incident of hate crime in our borough is one too many and we say No More. No More to hate crime. No More to discrimination and No More to a minority of people having the power to impact on the lives of so many.
“Although hate crime accounts for only a small percent of recorded crime in Knowsley, we also know that some instances go unreported, so we urge people to come forward if you have been a victim of or witnessed an incident of hate crime.
“Key to us tackling hate crime is working with partners to address the issues and establish ways to best support those who experience and witness such incidents. By sharing specialist knowledge, we can build our understanding of hate crime and support residents and communities affected.”
Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner, Emily Spurrell said: “National Hate Crime Awareness Week is an important date in the calendar for me. It gives us all the opportunity to celebrate and promote the rich diversity of our communities, while coming together to reaffirm and renew our commitment to challenging and tackling all acts of hatred and prejudice.
“At a time when our country sadly still feels quite divided and, in the wake of a recent increase in incidents of hate crime, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant to combat discrimination, abuse and prejudice.
“Let me make it clear, crimes motivated by hate have no place in our society.
“I’m pleased to be working with partners and communities across the region to send out the message – loud and clear – that our region is diverse, it is inclusive and it is welcoming. Those who look to spread and breed hatred are have no place here.”
If you have witnessed a hate crime, or have any information, please contact Merseyside Police social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police Contact Centre. You can also call 101.
If, for any reason, you do not wish to the report to the police, Stop Hate UK will ensure you get the appropriate emotional and practical support. They offer a free, confident and accessible 24/7 reporting service for all victims of hate crime, including multi-lingual reporting, the Stop Hate UK app, phone line 0800 138 1625 and webchat www.stophateuk.org.
Anyone affected by hate crime can visit www.victimcaremerseyside.org for help, advice and to get the contact details for organisations which can offer support.