Merseyside’s Police Commissioner will today join forces with a host of charities and organisations to launch a new strategy aimed at putting a stop to hate crime in our region.
The launch of the Hate Crime Strategy will kick-start two weeks of action aimed at raising awareness of hate crime and the ways to tackle it and promoting the support and help available to victims.
The fortnight-long campaign marks the anniversaries of the deaths of Anthony Walker (July 30th) and Michael Causer (August 2nd), who were both victims of vicious and unprovoked hate crime murders in Merseyside.
The Strategy, which has been developed by the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board (MCJB) Hate Crime sub-group, will be launched at the Museum of Liverpool where a one-minute silence will be held to remember Anthony, Michael and other men and women who have lost their lives in the region because of hate, fear and intolerance.
Joining Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy to launch the strategy will be representatives from the Anthony Walker Foundation, the Michael Causer Foundation and Moving on with Life and Learning (MOWLL), a charity who supported Gary Skelly, a disabled man who was killed following a one-punch attack.
Also speaking at the event will be Rose Simkins, the Chief Executive of Stop Hate UK, the charity which has now been funded by the Commissioner to provide an independent third party support service for all victims of hate crime in Merseyside, as well as the Force’s Chief Superintendent Rowland Moore who will talk about the importance of third party reporting centres.
Jane, who is Chair of the MCJB, said: “I am delighted that so many organisations are uniting today to take a stand against hate crime in our region and say it simply will not be tolerated.
“This Strategy is about raising awareness of this insidious and damaging crime. Sadly, we have seen far too many times in this region, the devastating results of hate crime - both the impact on those who are targeted and their loved ones.
“Despite that, we know that many people do not report the abusive incidents they experience – that might be because they fear of reprisals, because they worry they will not be believed, or simply because they do not know where to go for advice and support. Many individuals will experience up to 35 hate-based incidents before they report it.
“Nobody should be subjected to abuse, fear or hatred because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. That is why tackling hate crime has been one of my police and crime priorities since being elected.
“In the last year, the reporting of hate crime has risen by 23%. My hope is that, by providing an independent helpline for the whole of Merseyside, the reporting of hate crime will continue to increase because, ultimately, that means that people are speaking out. It means that abusing someone because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability is never acceptable here on Merseyside.”
“This Strategy is all about giving people the confidence to speak out, whether it is to the police or to Stop Hate UK. It is about letting victims know they will be supported, listened to and understood and making them aware of the action that can be taken against this type of crime.”
The MCJB Hate Crime sub-group brings together all agencies in Merseyside who are working to eradicate hate crime. The key aims of the new Strategy include:
- Focusing and coordinating resources and responses between different agencies to prevent hate crime taking place;
- Increasing awareness of what constitutes hate-based behaviour across all of the hate strands and the corrosive impact it has on victims, perpetrators and all communities;
- Educating those committing hate-based behaviour, across all age groups, to advance equality across Merseyside so everyone can live safely;
- Increasing reporting of hate crimes and hate incidents;
- Improving the monitoring of all hate-based behaviour;
- Increasing access to support, as well as to improving the operational response to hate crimes;
- Providing consistent and effective support for victims;
- Prevent the escalation of hate incidents into hate crimes;
- Promote collaboration and the sharing of lessons learnt, what works and best practice across all agencies in order to reduce repeat victimisation.
As part of the campaign, designated third party reporting centres have also been established where victims can report any incidents in a safe and secure and environment and be referred on to Stop Hate UK. Among those centres will be the first ever museum, the International Slavery Museum, as well as Citizens’ Advice Bureaus, hospitals including those from the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, and hackney cabs.
Head of Communities at National Museums Liverpool, Claire Benjamin, said: "The International Slavery Museum actively campaigns against human rights abuses, racism and discrimination.
“It is an exciting step to be the first museum to become a Designated Reporting Centre. Staff at the Museum will be able to assist victims of hate crime or hate incidents by providing access to a telephone or website to contact Stop Hate UK. We hope that through this partnership, we can support Liverpool communities to address hate crime and tensions in the city.”
Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust’s equality and diversity manager Andrea Smith said: “We are delighted to be working with the Merseyside Criminal Justice Board and Stop Hate UK to help reduce hate crime.
“As a hate crime third party reporting centre we will be working to raise awareness of hate crime and increase reporting in our hospitals with the help of six specially trained Equality and Human Rights Practitioners who can offer support to anyone wishing to report a hate crime.”
Among the events taking place as part of the two-weeks of action are Liverpool Pride – the largest single-day Pride event in the UK, the Anthony Walker Foundation festival in Greenbank Park on August 16th, a family fun-day at the River Side Police Club in Aigburth to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Daisy UK and a series of workshops to raise hate crime awareness.
The Anthony Walker Foundation’s Operations Manager John Au said: “‘The new strategy is a positive step and the idea of providing individuals experiencing hate crime with a dedicated 24/7 independent reporting option aside from the police is essential.
“The Foundation hopes this strategy will energise agencies across all sectors to clearly demonstrate their commitment to ensure hate crime is challenged and addressed robustly.”
Stop Hate UK Chief Executive Rose Simkins said: “By providing 24 hour support across Merseyside we can help to ensure that anyone experiencing or witnessing Hate Crime in Merseyside can access independent support at a time that suits them.
“The service is open 24 hours a day and can be accessed in eight different ways including telephone (0800 138 1625), with British sign language, by text and on line via www.stophateuk.org. We will continue to work in close partnership with organisations across Merseyside to provide all those affected by Hate Crime with the right support at the right time.”
A hate crime is any offence motivated by hatred, hostility or prejudice towards someone based on what people believe makes others different. Hate crime has many forms. It can be verbal abuse, insults or harassment; it can also be offensive material, such as posters and leaflets, or gestures and physical acts such as dumping rubbish outside a building or through the letterbox. It can also manifest as emotional or physical bullying at school or in the workplace.