Liverpool’s Merseyside Police in the UK have apologised after stirring up controversy with a campaign that ominously warned Brits they could be charged with “being offensive.”
Superintendent Martin Earl apologised in a statement on Monday for “any confusion” the campaign caused, declaring: “We would like to clarify that ‘being offensive’ is not in itself an offense.”
Earl explained that the campaign was organized by local police in the Wirral area of Merseyside “to encourage people to report hate crime,” but added that the message was “incorrect,” despite calling it “well intentioned.”
Statement from Superintendent Martin Earl regarding a message on an advan and our social media channels this weekend. pic.twitter.com/oyHs9eVtJM
— MerPol Wirral (@MerPolWirral) February 22, 2021
Merseyside Police in Wirral became the target of international condemnation and concern after it posted pictures last week of its police officers standing by a rainbow flag billboard that read, “Being offensive is an offense: Merseyside Police stand with and support the LGBTQI+ community, we will not tolerate hate crime on any level.”
Merseyside Police outside an Asda store today. “Being offensive is an offence.” Staggering. pic.twitter.com/VBeCJsDS2s
— Paul Embery (@PaulEmbery) February 21, 2021
The billboard also defined “hate crime” as a crime against “sex workers, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, race, ethnicity or nationality, religion, faith or belief,” prompting some Brits to question whether ridiculing prostitutes was now a criminal offense.
— MerPol Wirral (@MerPolWirral) February 20, 2021
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