Hate crime awareness is being championed by St Helens Council during a week-long national campaign (12-19 September) with councillors and frontline services trained to encourage reporting of these crimes.
Councillors have took part in police-led hate crime awareness training to increase awareness and reporting in their ward communities, while staff across the authority have been provided with a digital handbook that will help them spot and report incidents of hate crime and extremism.
A hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference.
It doesn’t always include physical violence. Someone using offensive language towards you or harassing you because of who you are, or who they think you are, is also a crime. The same goes for someone posting abusive or offensive messages about you online.
Training for councillors was led by Detective Constable Al Russo, Hate Crime Co-ordinator for Merseyside Police, and forms part of the council’s wider hate crime awareness campaign #BetterThanThat.
St Helens is among the first local authorities in the country to adopt this kind of training scheme for councillors, which provides them with as much knowledge of hate crime as a police officer – helping them support to their constituents in new ways.
Detective Constable Russo said: “It is great to see the take up for this training amongst our local councillors. Hate crime will not be tolerated in St Helens or anywhere in Merseyside.
“The more knowledge that our councillors and the communities they serve have, the more effective we can all be in identifying and reducing such incidents. Reporting hate crime can be something that members of our communities are reluctant to do, so the more options we can provide the better.
“This training is a great example of how, when partners unite, we can address local issues to improve people’s quality of life. My thanks to everyone who is taking part.”
Councillor Jeanie Bell, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “Hate crime is something that all elected members are naturally very concerned about, and they want to lead the way in their ward communities in making residents aware of and reducing incidents of hate crime.
“Research shows that there are higher levels of hate crime taking place than are currently reported, meaning that some people in our communities who are being targeted and who feel unsafe, are suffering in silence.
“The training has been brilliant, and it’s to Merseyside Police’s credit that officers like Al are engaging with communities like ours across the region.”
If you, or someone you know is being targeted, intimidated or abused because of age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race or ethnicity, then please report the hate incident to Merseyside Police on 101 – or 999 in an emergency situation, if you feel like you or someone else is in immediate danger.
If you wish to report a hate crime, but do not wish to speak to the police, report it to Stop Hate UK online at www.stophateuk.org or by phoning 0800 138 1625.
Find contact details for your local councillors online at www.sthelens.gov.uk.
Residents can also find out more about how to report hate crime confidentially within St Helens Libraries, which are supporting the campaign.