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  1. ITV Report

Yorkshire police force defends online campaign urging 'non-crime hate incidents' to be reported

The force has come under fire for its tweet. Credit: Twitter/ @syptweet

South Yorkshire Police has defended a social media campaign urging members of the public to report hurtful incidents - even if they are not crimes.

Tweets sent out by the force on Sunday generated masses of online debate because they called for "non-crime hate incidents" to be reported to police.

Many of the thousands of responses suggested that such issues are simply not police matters.

Today, South Yorkshire Police has told ITV that the force is pursuing the possibility of prosecuting some of those responsible for offensive replies to its original tweets.

The social media campaign was promoted following an incident in which a man was stabbed in Barnsley town centre last week, which the force had said was misreported to provoke hateful and racist comments.

In the face of some pretty outrageous comments we felt compelled to reassure our communities that we do not share the views of those individuals using social media to voice their hatred, and to remind everyone of hate crime and its impact on those affected.

This appears to have been deliberately misconstrued and manipulated by some media outlets and individuals on social media to misleadingly suggest that we are encouraging people to report any incident that causes insult. This is not the case.

Social commentary about drivers cutting up one another on roads, or people being insulted due to opposing views at a football game, is misleading and incredibly unhelpful.

We encourage reporting of hate incidents much the same as we encourage victims of domestic abuse to report incidents to us, or communities feeling beset by antisocial behaviour to report incidents to us.

Not all of those incidents reported to us are crimes, nor will they receive a police response, but it gives us (and our partner agencies) a good indication of what’s happening in our communities and directs our preventative, proactive police work to try and stop crimes from happening in the first place.

– Chief Constable Stephen Watson, South Yorkshire Police