Commissioner delivers 24/7 helpline for all hate crime victims
Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has today pledged to tackle the under-reporting of hate crime by funding an independent support service for the whole region.
Jane Kennedy has announced she will fund Stop Hate UK to deliver a 24/7 helpline offering third party support and advice to anyone on Merseyside targeted by incidents of abuse, intimidation or hate because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender.
As well as offering a round-the-clock service by phone or social media, national third party reporting agency Stop Hate UK will also deliver a campaign aimed at raising awareness of hate crime in the region and the steps that can be taken to combat it.
The Commissioner made the announcement at the third annual Navajo Merseyside & Cheshire LGBTI Chartermark Award Ceremony, which recognises companies that support and encourage good practice and are committed and knowledgeable about the specific needs, issues and barriers facing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people in Merseyside.
The decision to fund the service also comes as the Commissioner joined officers today in raising the rainbow flag at Merseyside Police headquarters ahead of International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO) which is celebrated on May 17th every year.
The Commissioner took the decision to fund the service after becoming concerned that the service available to people across the region had become inconsistent.
Jane Kennedy said: “Tackling all forms of hate crime is one of my policing priorities. Merseyside Police are committed to eradicating crimes motivated by prejudice, intolerance and hatred. Nobody should be targeted by abuse or criminal behaviour because of their sexual orientation, transgender, disability, race or religion.
“We know that all forms of hate crime are significantly under-reported. We also know that if incidents are not tackled at an early stage they can escalate into very serious crimes. However, it is important to recognise that some individuals and communities may be reluctant to talk directly to the police or their local council.
“That is why it is so important to have a consistent third party reporting facility across the whole region. Currently that does not exist and that is why I have taken the decision to fund Stop Hate UK for Merseyside. This service will ensure every single person, of any race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or with any disability, living anywhere in the region can access an independent, confidential agency to report an incident of hate crime to a trusted and responsible third party organisation.
“I realise this means the number of reported hate crimes will increase, but that is what we must accept and encourage in order to protect our residents and prevent them from being targeted because of ignorance, prejudice or intolerance.
“My hope is that the reporting of hate crime does increase because, ultimately, that means that people are speaking out. It means people are saying abusing someone simply because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability is never acceptable here on Merseyside.”
Stop Hate UK will provide the infrastructure and IT to deliver the most up-to-date reporting mechanisms and the training, skills and experience to deal effectively with all reported incidents of hate crime. This includes an easily accessible service with free phone telephone numbers, multilingual options, text relay for hard of hearing, text reporting which goes direct to call handler, web chat and on line forms.
Stop Hate UK will also focus on raising awareness of hate crime within Merseyside, educating victims, witnesses and the general public about what hate crime is and the steps that can be tackle it.
Stop Hate UK Chief Executive Rose Simkins said: “Stop Hate UK are delighted that Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner Jane Kennedy has decided to fund the Stop Hate Line service across Merseyside.
“This is a very important step to bring consistency across the whole of Merseyside and to ensure that anyone can access independent support on Hate Crime 24 hours a day by phone or using social media to report incidents. Hate Crime is known to have a long term and devastating impact on those who are targeted. However, we know that most people do not report the incidents they experience or witness. There are many barriers to reporting including: fear of reprisals, fear of the police, fear of not being believed, or not knowing who to speak to. We will now be able to offer this much needed service across the whole of Merseyside.”
The Stop Hate Line gives victims and witnesses a safe and independent place to talk about their experiences and to explore their options for taking things further.
The Stop Hate Line 0800 138 1625 is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The helpline can support people who report incidents they believe to be motivated by aspects of identity such as Disability, Gender Identity, Race, Religion and Sexual Orientation. People who believe that they have been targeted because of other aspects of identity can also access the helpline.
People can also contact the Stop Hate Line anonymously. Where a victim has chosen to give their personal details to Stop Hate UK, their trained staff and volunteers will ask the victim who they want their details to be shared with. The charity can also share information with the police and council, with consent, to ensure that Hate Crime victims and witnesses can access the support they need.