Online Hate Crime To Be Debated At City Hall

Leading professionals are to address the issue of online hate crime at a conference at Belfast City Hall this month.

Representatives from the PSNI and the Belfast Policing & Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) will engage in an interactive question and answering session at the No Place for Hate conference.

It comes as a consultation on hate crime legislation opens amid an independent review to explore options and ideas to improve and strengthen the laws around such crimes.

Launching the consultation, Judge Desmond Marrinan referenced recent events in which three families were prevented from moving into a new social development in north Belfast. Windows were smashed, flags were attached to fences and offensive sectarian lettering was sprayed on a wall.

Focusing on online strands of hate crime, the role of social media is among the issues to be discussed at the free event, which will also highlight the supportive resources available for victims.

The conference coincides with the launch of a new ad campaign encouraging people to report hate crime as the issue becomes increasingly prevalent in society.
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Deputy Lord Mayor Councillor Peter McReynolds said: "The internet has changed the way we communicate and while it has many positives, it has also allowed for the spread of hateful content to a wider audience. The message of this campaign is that there is No Place For Hate – all forms of hate crime are unacceptable, both on and offline. The message is simple: to stop it, report it."

Speaking ahead of the event, Councillor Michael Donnelly, chair of Belfast PCSP added: "It is becoming increasingly necessary to highlight crimes which take place online and highlight to members of the public that they have the power to help stop digital crime.

"I look forward to welcoming members of the public to City Hall on 27th February as we discuss the work currently being undertaken to tackle online hate crime.

"We are also highlighting Judge Marrinan's Hate Crime Legislation Review which is currently open for the public to consult on, and are delighted to welcome Judge Marrinan himself to speak about his consultation paper, the problem of online hate and also freedom of speech online."

Other speakers include Chara Bakalis of Oxford Brookes University and Fadzai Madzingira, who will address Facebook policy and how the social media platform is trying to tackle online hate crime and support their customers.

Members of the public are invited to attended the No Place for Hate conference, which will take place on Thursday 27 February.

Residents can also have their input to the hate crime legislation independent review online before the consultation closes on 31 March.


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