Liverpool takes a stand against hate crime

Liverpool City Council and its partners have set out a vision to create a fair city for everyone by taking a stand against hate crime.

This week Liverpool’s Citysafe partnership launches its Hate Crime Strategy 2020-2023, which sets out how partners including the council, police, health service, voluntary sector, the business community and more will challenge hate crime and work together to ensure incidents are reported and dealt with.

A hate crime is defined as any incident motivated by prejudice or hostility against a person’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender status.

Examples include verbal abuse, threatening behaviour and assault, offensive literature and fly-posting through to social media posts and jokes.

Since 2017, Liverpool has seen a 10 per cent increase in the number of recorded hate crime. The partnership believes that this increase is due partly to a rise in incidents but also a reflection of the greater awareness of hate crimes and better ways of reporting them.

The Hate Crime Strategy sets out to prevent and reduce the number of hate crimes committed in the city by making sure that victims and witnesses are supported and offenders are brought to justice.

Liverpool’s Citysafe partnership pledges to work with communities to encourage activities that bring people together and to raise awareness about what a hate crime is, the impact they have on victims and how they can be reported.

Liverpool’s Hate Crime Strategy was due to be launched in March but had to be delayed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The strategy will be officially launched on Thursday 30 July through a special online event.

The launch coincides with the 15th anniversary of the death of the Merseyside teenager Anthony Walker.

The 18-year-old was brutally murdered with an ice-axe in a racist attack in Huyton in 2005.

This week Anthony’s story was re-told in a special BBC drama written by Liverpool playwright Jimmy McGovern.

Speakers at the launch will include Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, Cllr Liz Parsons, Cabinet Member for Inclusive and Accessible City Cllr Pam Thomas, Liverpool’s newly appointed Race and Equality task force leader Tracey Gore and John Au and Ben Osu from the Anthony Walker Foundation.

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships, Cllr Liz Parsons, said: “The impact of hate crime can be devastating for victims and their families but also has the potential to divide and damage communities and neighbourhoods.

“Working with our partners, we will strive to reduce isolation, victimisation and inequality for individuals and vulnerable groups, and continue to develop the confidence that if an incident occurs it will be dealt with effectively.

“By working together we will focus on building resilient and empowered communities and endeavour to ensure that our residents and visitors feel safe and feel part of their community, feel they belong.”

Ben Osu from The Anthony Walker Foundation said: “Now, more than ever, it is important that we work together to address racism and tackle all forms of hate crimes. We’re proud of the work we have done and continue to do with our strategic partners and welcome the launch of the new Hate Crime Strategy. In recent months we have seen a rise in reported race and religious hate crimes compared to last year and this must not be allowed to go unchecked.

“Today marks the 15th anniversary since Anthony’s life was tragically taken. For him, we must work for a better world. For a better city. We must not let hate have the last word.”

Diane Pownall, Superintendent of Community Policing for Merseyside Police said: “We want to empower victims to speak out about hate crime, as well as educating the public in general in order to enable everyone living in our community to spot the signs and to feel confident in reporting incidents to us or our partners.

“Our dedicated teams of specially trained officers are here to offer support and guidance as well as investigate incidents to bring offenders to justice.

“We take all reports of hate crime, whether that’s physical or verbal, online or face-to-face, extremely seriously and incidents are investigated thoroughly. I continue to ask anyone who has been a victim of hate crime or knows someone that has, to please get in touch. Not one person living in or around Merseyside should feel inferior to another – hate crime will not be tolerated and those who target others or commit a criminal offence, can and will be investigated and brought to justice.”

Liverpool Waterfront