Merseyside Police apologises after campaign warning ‘being offensive’ is a crime
Merseyside Police has been forced to issue an apology after a campaign aimed at encouraging members of the LGBT+ community to report hate crime backfired.
Officers took to the streets of Wirral over the weekend with a large digital advertising van carrying the message: “Being offensive is an offence”. However, the campaign was strongly criticised on social media for undermining free speech.
On Monday morning (Feburary 22) the force released a statement from Superintendent Martin Earl, which said: “We would like to clarify that ‘being offensive’ is not in itself an offence.
“A message on an ad van 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 coordinators draw on a wealth of experience and expertise to provide effective and above all sensitive and appropriate support for victims.
“We would also 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.”