Merseyside Police has confirmed it has and will continue to take action against those people responsible for harassment, intimidation and violence against people living at or connected to the Suites Hotel. In a statement released today Knowsley Community Policing Superintendent Karl Baldwin said:
“We are investigating a total of ten crimes related to the Suites Hotel, all of which have been reported since the Violent Disorder on Friday 10 February. These include assaults, malicious communications, and verbal abuse, both of staff, residents and people wrongly assumed to be connected to the premises.
“On Saturday 11 February, a number of phone calls were made to the Suites Hotel which were reportedly of a racist and obscene nature. Following enquiries, a 51-year-old Kirkby man was arrested on Friday 17 February. He remains on conditional bail, whilst a decision to charge is sought from the CPS.
“On Monday 27 February, two males were approached by a group of males in Broad Lane, Kirkby, who shouted threats and followed them into Southdene Park, before assaulting them.
“On Tuesday 28 February at around 11.30pm, patrols were called to the East Lancashire Road to reports of a man being assaulted near to Home Bargains by two males on electric bikes and armed with batons. The victim sustained superficial injuries to his leg. In both of these incidents, minor injuries were sustained by the victims. Both incidents are being treated as hate crimes.
“Other incidents have been reported where people have been verbally abused near to the hotel. Enquiries are ongoing in relation to all these incidents.
“Violence, threats and harassment targeting anyone (including residents and staff connected to the premises) will not be tolerated, and is completely unacceptable. We will continue to work closely with the premises, as well as our partners, residents and communities to ensure all information is acted upon.
“Such incidents can be the consequence of misinformation and rumour which can circulate and be shared by people with no thought to the harm and distress caused.
“We are aware that there is a lot of concern throughout our community, concern that we are taking very seriously. Some are choosing to prey upon that concern on social media by using falsehoods, misinformation and inflammatory language. We encourage everyone to view such information sceptically. What plays out online can have real world consequences that put innocent people in harm’s way.
“Merseyside Police has, and will, investigate every incident that is reported to us.
“Our officers are supporting every victim of crime and we will continue to use all our available powers to ensure that there is no repeat of the disorder in February which put officers, residents and those peaceful protesters in serious danger. An investigation into that incident continues. This week, Jared Skeete, 19, from Aigburth was pleaded guilty to Violent Disorder and will be sentenced next month. The dedicated investigation team set up in the wake of the Violent Disorder, continues at pace. All those involved in the violence in February and who have committed one of the crimes since, should be in no doubt that we are doing all we can to bring them to justice and think twice about repeating their behaviour.
“The incident in February put those in the community and our officers at risk. Those involved used rumours and allegations as an excuse to commit violence and intimidate members of the public. We will continue to use all available powers to deter any similar incidents of violence, threats and harassment, while acknowledging that people have the right to peacefully protest.
“I hope these arrests, charges and ongoing investigations demonstrate our commitment to investigating each and every one of these incidents. If you have any information, please come forward and we will do the rest.”
You can report any incidents to @MerPolCC or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Always call 999 if a crime is in progress.
Cllr Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “I welcome this decisive action taken by our colleagues at Merseyside Police and hope this gives a strong warning to anyone who thinks it is acceptable to target innocent people simply because of the colour of their skin, nationality or even association or connection with the asylum seeker community.
“Let’s not forget that those coming to the UK and to Knowsley to seek asylum are leaving their own homes and families in fear of their lives. The majority of these people have experienced significant trauma and loss, which they already have to struggle with on a daily basis. To then arrive in a place of supposed safety and yet, still not feel safe, is unimaginable and not something that will be tolerated here in Knowsley.
“I offer my full support to Merseyside Police and encourage all residents to be aware of the significant misinformation that is being circulated online and refrain from sharing or spreading rumour and mistruths that sadly are having real life consequences for some members of our community.”