Taking a stand against hate crime this Valentine’s Day

Sefton Council is supporting a new campaign urging people to take a stand against hate crime in the run up to Valentine’s Day.

The ‘Love not Hate’ campaign, launched by Merseyside’s Police Commissioner today and backed by victims of hate crime, aims to raise awareness of hate crime across Merseyside and encourage people to speak out when they have been a victim.

Statistics show that victims of hate crime will usually experience up to 35 incidents of hate and abuse before they report it and it is estimated that only 18% of hate crimes are ever reported to the police.

The campaign urges people not to suffer in silence and encourages victims to contact Merseyside Police or, if they don’t feel confident speaking to the police, to get in touch with Stop Hate UK. The charity have been funded by the Commissioner to deliver an independent confidential 24/7 helpline for victims across Merseyside.

It also aims to increase awareness of the existence of third party reporting centres across Merseyside. There are now more than 70 centres across the region where victims can receive help and support to report an incident of hate in a safe and secure environment.

The Commissioner, Jane Kennedy, said: “This Valentine’s Day, we are uniting to take a stand against hate crime and remind people that it will simply not be tolerated here on Merseyside.

“Sadly, on Merseyside, we have seen the consequences of hate crime, which can be devastating both for victims and for their loved ones. Despite that, we know that many victims do not report the abuse they experience – that can be because they fear reprisals, because they worry they will not be believed or simply because they do not know where to go for advice or support.

“Victims need to know they will be believed and listened to if they go to the police. But if, for any reason, they don’t feel comfortable contacting the police, they can contact Stop Hate UK in confidence.

“We also want to spread the word that there are now more than 70 third party reporting centres right across Merseyside. These are places of safety where victims can get the help and support they need to report abuse or hate in a secure environment.

“I want to raise awareness that there is help and support available. I am urging people to ‘Love not Hate’ and saying publicly that nobody should suffer in silence.”

Third party reporting centres can be identified by a red “hand” logo and among the venues already boasting the status are 25 Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service stations, the International Slavery Museum, as well as Citizens’ Advice Bureaus, hospitals and hackney cabs.

Victims, who don’t want to speak to the police can contact Stop Hate UK anonymously and, where a victim chooses to give their person details, their trained staff and volunteers will check how they may be used.

Stop Hate UK’s Chief Executive Rose Simkins said: “I am delighted to support this campaign which will help raise the awareness of third party reporting of Hate Crime across Merseyside.

“Our 24 hour Stop Hate Line, which has recently received funding from the  Police and Crime Commissioner to extend the service throughout the area, and the many hate incident reporting centres in the area, will ensure victims and witnesses of Hate Crimes have a safe and secure place to report and seek support every hour of the day.”

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.

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