Local councillors become Hate Crime Ambassadors with police training
St Helens Borough councillors have taken up police-led training to become Hate Crime Ambassadors, championing awareness and increasing public confidence in reporting in their ward communities.
The elected members can now provide an additional point of contact for victims and witnesses of hate crime and can help them to make contact with police and support services.
Hate crime is any offence or hostility directed at individuals, groups and communities because of who they are or who someone thinks they are.
It can include threats, physical harm, property damage and harassment towards a person, because of their race, religion, disability, sexuality, gender identity, nationality or ethnicity.
The ambassador training sessions at St Helens Town Hall were led by Al Russo, Hate Crime Coordinator for Merseyside Police, and Mike Berry, Hate Crime Lead in St Helens and Knowsley for the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner.
The ambassador scheme supports the council's wider hate crime awareness campaign '#NoPlaceForHate'. For more information visit http://safer.sthelens.gov.uk/crime-types/hate-crime/
18 councillors attended the initial training, with further sessions scheduled soon.
Councillor David Baines, Leader of St Helens Borough Council, said: "Hate crime is something we should all be concerned about, and we need to work together to reduce incidents in our communities. There will be people in our communities right now who are being targeted and who feel unsafe, and they're suffering in silence.
"The more knowledge that our councillors have, the more effective we can all be in identifying, reporting and reducing such incidents. Reporting hate crime can be something that residents are reluctant to do, and while police should be the primary point of contact, the more options we can provide the better."
Merseyside's Police and Crime Commissioner, Emily Spurrell said: "St Helens Borough, like the whole of Merseyside, is a proudly diverse, vibrant and inclusive area.
"I welcome the launch of this fantastic scheme which yet again demonstrates the council's commitment to ensuring the borough is No Place for Hate and the ongoing commitment to providing support for those in most need.
"I'm pleased that through my office we are supporting this training to equip all of their councillors to become Hate Crime Ambassadors. By doing so, our goal is to further raise awareness of all the ways residents can access support to ensure anyone affected by hate crime gets the help they need and deserve.
"I would urge anyone affected by hate to report it, either to Merseyside Police, to independent charity Stop Hate UK or your local councillor."
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 www.stophateuk.org or contact your local ward councillors. Find their details at www.sthelens.gov.uk/findmycouncillor.