Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Billboards used to fight hate crime

Cath Lawson with her son Sean who features on a new hate crime poster campaign launched in Belfast

Massive billboard posters are being unveiled in Northern Ireland to help fight hate crime.

More than 2,100 offences were committed against minority groups last year but authorities believe more than twice as many have gone unreported.

A series of 14 billboard posters and a mobile advertising unit will appear in Belfast and around Northern Ireland over the next fortnight urging people to report hate crime.

Eva Grosman, Unite Against Hate project manager, said: "Northern Ireland is not unique to suffer from these crimes. But they are deeply damaging not just to the victims and their families and friends, but also to the international reputation of the country as a place in which to visit and to invest.

"We all have a role to play in stamping out hate crime by reporting any incidents right away."

Celebrity backers of the campaign include boxing champion Paddy Barnes, model Gemma Garret and TV presenter Katie Larmour.

Justice Minister David Ford said: "The criminal justice system has come a long way in its understanding and handling of hate crime in recent years but more must be done. We need to improve our support to victims and bring those responsible for such crimes before the courts."

Evelyn Collins, chief executive of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, said hate crime was a serious form of discrimination.

"In recent years we have seen a rise in negative attitudes towards people with disabilities and those from different racial background and sexual orientations and we are all challenged to raise awareness of the importance of equality and respect for everyone in our community," she added.

The mobile billboard unit will visit six local councils, sporting events and other crowd-gathering locations.

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