Officers from Sefton’s Hate Crime Unit are raising awareness and encouraging more victims to come forward as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
Working alongside partners including Stop Hate UK and Sefton Council, the Unit are dedicated to tackling hate crime in the north of Merseyside, while offering bespoke support to victims.
Since January this year, 297 incidents of hate crime have been reported in Sefton, however, research shows that there are higher levels of hate crime taking place than are currently reported. The Hate Crime Unit want to encourage victims that may be suffering in silence to report incidents, and want to reassure the community that a wide range of help is available.
A hate crime or incident is any incident that may or may not be a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate. The prejudice or hate can be based on a number of factors including disability (including learning disabilities), race/ ethnicity, religion or belief (including no belief), sexual orientation or gender identity and can take many forms, such as verbal abuse or insults, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, or physical attacks.
Working within Sefton’s Hate Crime Unit is hate crime co-ordinator Detective Constable Gerrie McConaghy QPM. Earlier this year, Gerrie was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for Distinguished Services to Policing, due to her extensive work in promoting awareness of hate crime and providing support to victims.
Detective Constable McConaghy said: “For the past 11 years I have been the hate crime co-ordinator for the Sefton area and the work we carry out together with partners can make a significant difference to victims of crime and the community as a whole. However, we are finding that a large amount of hate crimes continue to go unreported.
“This can be for a number of reasons, including the fear of repercussions or the victim being afraid to attend court. We are here to reassure victims that there is a vast range of help available, which can be tailored to suit the needs of the individual. We regularly visit victims in their homes to provide support and advice and can find alternative ways of assisting those who are afraid to attend court. We also provide hate crime training for both agencies and schools, free of charge, through collaboration with Sefton MBC.
“Hate crime has a massive impact on victims as well as the community and there is absolutely no place for it in society. We are dedicated to eradicating hate crime as well as educating the public to be able to recognise signs of hate crime, and would urge anyone who witnesses an incident, even if you are not the victim, to please come forward and report it. We encourage everyone to be the eyes and ears for more vulnerable people, who may not otherwise report such incidents and may continue to suffer in silence.
“We are passionate about maintaining the right of all our communities to be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. Merseyside is rightly proud of being a diverse place to live, work and socialise and with the help of our partners and communities, we will continue do our utmost to support victims, eradicate hate crime from our communities, and put those responsible before the courts.”
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “Merseyside is a vibrant and diverse region, home to people from all races and faiths, to people of all sexual orientations and genders and to people of all abilities. It is a warm and welcoming region, made stronger by that rich diversity.
“National Hate Crime Awareness Week is an opportunity for us to stand together to demonstrate that hate crime will not be tolerated across Merseyside. Nobody should be subject to abuse, fear or hatred simply because of who they are and this week we will be working hard to make sure all those who have been affected know there is help and support available.
“I would urge anyone who has been subjected to hate to contact Merseyside Police on 101 or, if for any reason they don’t feel comfortable speaking to the police, to ring independent charity Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625 who I have commissioned to provide 24/7 help and support.
“There are also more than 90 independent centres across the region where you can get help to contact Stop Hate UK - anywhere displaying a ‘red hand’ logo is part of this important network standing up against hate.”
There are a number of ways people can report hate crime. Always call 999 if there is an emergency and a crime is in progress. You can also contact 101, @MerPolCC or one of over 90 third-party supporting centres, of which a full list can be found here: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/advice-and-protection/crimes-against-people/hate-crime/merseyside-third-party-hate-crime-reporting-centres/
If for any reason you don’t feel comfortable speaking to the police, ring independent charity Stop Hate UK on 0800 138 1625 who provide 24/7 help and support, or visit http://www.stophateuk.org/.
Hate crime reporting links from Sefton Council can be found here: https://www.sefton.gov.uk/advice-benefits/crime-and-emergencies/hate-crime.aspx