Merseyside Police and the Police Commissioner have welcomed the sentencing of a woman for verbally abusing a disabled woman because of her disability in St Helens.
Emma Robinson, 44 years, of Leach Lane pleaded not guilty to verbally abusing a disabled woman, but was convicted following a trial at Liverpool Magistrates Court of using a derogatory term referencing the 38-year-old woman's disability during an incident in St Helens on 20 April 2017.
She was sentenced on 15 February and ordered to pay the victim £400 in compensation and court costs of £250. She was also ordered to complete a six-week community order with an electronic tag curfew, and a two-year restraining order to not approach the victim or communicate with the victim lasting until 14 February 2020.
Detective Constable Al Russo said: "This case illustrates our determination to challenge hate crime and put people before the courts who use offensive terms based on someone’s perceived disability. Legislation was recently updated to include more terms that are deemed inappropriate and this case shows that we will enforce that legislation to ensure the people of Merseyside are protected from discrimination and abuse.
"We welcome all reports of hate crime – whether physical abuse or verbal - because we know it has been a vastly under-reported crime for so long now. If people are being targeted because they are perceived to be different then we want them to come forward and tell us rather than suffer in silence.
"The offender in this case has been left severely out of pocket and has strict restrictions placed on her movements as a result of her behaviour during this incident. The more action we can take against perpetrators, the more confidence we can instil in victims that if they report things to the police we will protect, support them and make it stop.
"Victims can report directly to the police, or via third party reporting centres in fire stations, citizen advice bureaus and hospitals where the information will be passed on.
"Our specially-trained hate crime officers will treat victims who call us with sensitivity and compassion, and in this case the victim was supported by the Anthony Walker Foundation and Daisy UK before and during the trial through the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Victim Care Merseyside hate crime support scheme.
"By continuing to encourage greater reporting we can protect and support more victims and make it clear to perpetrators that we will do everything we can to put them before the courts."
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: "Nobody should be subjected to abuse and hate simply because of who they are. The sentence handed down to Emma Robinson shows just how seriously hate crime is taken by the police and by the criminal justice system.
"The victim showed real bravery in refusing to accept this abuse. I hope her case will give other people the confidence to come forward, knowing they will be listened to, understood and helped through the process, either by the police or by our dedicated support service. I would like to thank Daisy UK and the Anthony Walker Foundation for the care they provided to this lady, as I know they do for many, many others."
Anyone with information on hate crime is asked to contact Merseyside Police social media desk via Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook Merseyside Police CC. You can also call 101 or, if you do not wish to speak to the police, please contact independent charity Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625 or www.stophateuk.org.
If you have been a victim of crime, please visit www.victimcaremerseyside.org for information and to access support.