Merseyside Police has apologised for an advertisement on a mobile billboard stating that “being offensive is an offence” as part of a campaign to encourage people to report hate crime.
The force came under fire over the weekend after the message appeared on a billboard in Wirral. (Main image shows the advan at Birkenhead.)
In a statement issued by Superintendent Martin Earl, he says that the poster was “well-intentioned” but it was “incorrect”.
Merseyside Police said it “apologises for any confusion this may have caused,” adding “hate crime is an offence and will not be tolerated”.
“Hate crime can come in various guises that can include assault, criminal damage, verbal and written online abuse,” Supt. Earl added.
This is the statement in full:
We would like to clarify that “being offensive” is not in itself an offence.
A message on an advan and social media this weekend by the Local Policing Team on the Wirral to encourage people to report hate crime, although well-intentioned, was incorrect and we apologise for any confusion this may have caused.
Hate crime is an offence and will not be tolerated. Hate crime can come in various guises that can include assault, criminal damage, verbal and written online abuse.
Our Hate Crime Co-ordinators draw on a wealth of experience and expertise to provide effective and above all sensitive and appropriate support for victims.
We would like to remind people we have a number of third party reporting centres including fire stations and activity centres which enable people who feel more comfortable discussing their issues with an independent party to come forward.
Support networks are available to provide emotional support, practical assistance and information to anyone requesting help – further help can be found at https://www.merseyside.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/hco/hate-crime/how-to-report-hate-crime/ or visit https://crimestoppers-uk.org/keeping-safe/personal-safety/hate-crime.
Also if someone doesn’t want to speak to the police, they can get support from the charity Stop Hate UK and they will act as a liaison if required. They can be contacted by calling 0800 138 1625.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service, a hate crime is “criminal behaviour where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility towards the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity”.
Main image: Merseyside Police