Merseyside's Deputy Police Commissioner is today joining with partners to warn would-be offenders of the life-changing consequences of committing a hate crime as part of the No Place for Hate campaign.
The multi-agency initiative is aimed at further preventing incidents of hate in Liverpool city centre, particularly in around the night time economy in key areas including the Ropewalks area and the Stanley Street Quarter and the main pedestrian routes from Lime Street Station.
Today, the Deputy Police Commissioner, Cllr Emily Spurrell, is joining with representatives from Merseyside Police, Liverpool City Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and bar and club owners to launch the campaign by distributing materials in the Concert Square area highlighting to potential perpetrators what the future may hold if they are caught committing a hate crime.
The message is clear – hate crime will not be tolerated.
And for those who do commit an offence, the consequences could be hard to live with; including a criminal record, a court appearance, a fine, the loss of a job and even a prison sentence. A person who is convicted of committing a crime which is motivated by hate is also likely to face an ‘uplift’ to their sentence by the courts.
Posters and leaflets carrying the warning will be distributed to dozens of late night businesses across the city centre, including pubs, bars, take-away restaurants and shops, banners will be used in Concert Square and taxis will also be asked to carry the message.
The campaign, which is part of ongoing work by Liverpool’s City Centre Joint Agency Group (CCJAG) to address crime and disorder issues, will also be highlighted on social media. Banners designed by Gwladys Street Primary School student, 11-year-old Diya Dipesh, will also be hung in the square to remind people ‘it is a crime to hate’.
The public campaign will also be supported by an increasingly proactive approach within Merseyside Police which aims to educate those arrested for hate crime offences about the impact of their behaviour on their victims, with the aim of preventing further incidents. This will include perpetrators receiving an educational visit from a detective who will use real-life case studies and materials to bring home the effect of committing a hate crime.
Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Emily Spurrell said: “Traditionally anti-hate crime campaigns in Merseyside have focussed on encouraging victims of hate crime to report incidents of hate either to the police or to national charity Stop Hate UK.
“This campaign is taking a different approach – we want to prevent the incidents from occurring in the first place. Our aim is to warn would-be perpetrators that the consequences for carrying out a crime motivated by prejudice and hostility could very well be life-changing.
“You are likely to end the night behind bars and that could lead to a court appearance, a fine, the loss of your job or even a prison sentence.
“And I want to make it absolutely clear that being drunk is no defence - hate crime is always criminal. If you wouldn’t behave in a certain way when sober, don’t do it while under the influence.
“While we have seen a 15% decrease in hate crime incidents in the city centre over the last year, we know there is more that can be done. We will never rest on our laurels and I hope this campaign will reassure all those who work in or use the night time economy, whether that’s someone working in a bar, a take-away or a late-night shop or someone who is in the city centre at night for leisure, that Merseyside Police takes incidents of hate extremely seriously. Robust action will be taken against those who commit offences.
“Hate crime doesn’t only affect the victim, it has a corrosive impact on the whole of society, causing fear and division. It will not be tolerated on Merseyside and that’s why we are launching this campaign to tackle this issue head-on.”
Merseyside Police’s Superintendent Mark Wiggins said: "Merseyside is rightly proud of being a diverse place to live, work and socialise and I am delighted that so many representatives from across the community are joining us for this campaign, which will be a powerful way of highlighting the consequences of hate crime for any would-be perpetrator. My message to them is this: treat everyone with respect and understand that committing such an offence can ruin your life and future prospects. There is no excuse.
“Last year’s decrease in hate crime in Liverpool City Centre is certainly encouraging, and shows the immense day-to-day efforts by police and our partners in education and enforcement. But if we can actually prevent these incidents from occurring in the first place, all of our communities will be more tolerant and peaceful places to live, work and visit.
"There is no place in our society for hate crime and Merseyside Police is committed to maintaining the right of all our communities to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. We remain committed to taking action against those responsible for hate crime and building trust with the most vulnerable members of our communities.
"I would urge anyone who feels they have been a victim to contact us in the knowledge that we will take their concerns seriously and we will take prompt action to identify offenders and put them before the courts.”
Liverpool City Council’s Mayoral Lead for Community Safety, Cllr Ruth Bennett, said: “Hate crimes seek to dehumanise people. They are born of ignorance and fear and attempt to divide communities. There can be no mistake, if we allow the spread of hate, we are as guilty as those who commit these insidious crimes and that’s not how we do things in Liverpool. We stand up to intolerance, we challenge the bullies and we simply say ‘no’ to hate. The one thing we all have in common is that we are all different, it’s something we cherish and celebrate in Liverpool. These posters send the clear message that there is no room for hate either in our hearts or in our city.”
If you have witnessed or experienced hate crime you can report it in a number of ways. You can contact Merseyside Police on social media desk via twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police CC. You can also call 101. If you do not wish to speak to the police you can contact independent charity Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625 or www.stophateuk.org