Race hate crimes shot up by more than a third during lockdown in one Merseyside borough, according to shocking new statistics.
Figures discussed at Sefton Council’s Safer Communities meeting last week showed there were 178 race crimes reported between March 1 and August 31 this year.
The number of race crimes stood at 126 for the same period of time in 2019.
One vile incident led to a man being arrested after racially abusing a supermarket security guard who asked him to social distance.
On April 8, police were called to Aldi on Washington Parade, Bootle, after a man became racially abusive towards a security guard to ensure he was socially distancing.
Kevin Bell, 47, of Ormskirk Road, Aintree was arrested and later charged with a racially aggravated public order offence. He has been released on conditional bail and is due to appear at Liverpool Magistrates Court on December 8.
Another disturbing racist incident saw “Whites Only Bench” sprayed across a park bench.
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Officers received a report of offensive graffiti on a bench in Victoria Park in Waterloo, after Sefton Council staff came across it.
It has since been removed.
McCaughrean said: “Our officers regularly speak to victims of hate crime and know first-hand the impact this type of crime has.
“We proactively engage with those communities in Merseyside who may have been subject to hate crime to identify and reassure anyone who may have been a victim, and I would urge anyone else out there who may have been a victim to get in contact so we can take action.
“You will be supported every step of the way as sensitively as possible by officers who will take your reports seriously and do everything in their power to bring perpetrators to justice.
“I would also like to remind people we have a number of third party reporting centres across Merseyside.
“These include fire stations, citizen advice bureaus and hospitals, which enable people who feel more comfortable discussing their issues with an independent party to come forward.
“Support networks such as the Anthony Walker Foundation also provide emotional support, practical assistance and information to anyone requesting help.
“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.”
Figures presented to the Safer Communities meeting showed hate crimes in general rose significantly – from 216 to 287.
Ten reports of hate crimes towards transgender people were reported, compared to seven for the same period in 2019; and 62 crimes due to sexual orientation were reported, up from 46 last year.
Detective Superintendent Dave McCaughrean, from the Protecting Vulnerable People Unit at Merseyside Police, added: “I want to make it clear that while the lockdown period and continuing restrictions have proved challenging for us all, the tension people may have felt is never an excuse to commit a hate crime against any other person or group, and I am pleased to say there have been no hate crimes directly attributed to the spread of Covid-19 reported in Sefton.”