Lancashire Police confirms it is investigating racist remarks made on local Facebook groups
An investigation has been launched by Lancashire Police into alleged racist remarks made on a number of community Facebook groups.
The force has confirmed that it has received a number of complaints regarding offensive comments posted on local community groups this week.
The comments, condemned as 'completely unacceptable' by police, were made in response to an anti-racism protest held in Lytham on Sunday (June 7).
Hundreds had gathered on the Green for the peaceful event, one of several held across the county following the death of George Floyd in the United States last month.
Over the weekend, community Facebook groups, including 'We are Lytham' and 'Look Out in Lytham', were subjected to a torrent of racist comments by those opposed to the event.
The shocking remarks, which have since been removed by the group's administrators, were the subject of a number of complaints made to Lancashire Police.
The force has confirmed that it is actively investigating the posts, but said it could not comment further at this stage.
It has warned that any racist comments made online in the future will also face a full investigation by the force.
"We absolutely will investigate such comments – they are completely unacceptable," said a police spokesman.
It said it actively encourages people to report hate crimes, whether they belong to the targeted group or not.
The organisers of Fleetwood's Black Lives Matter protest planned for Friday, June 11, said they were forced to cancel the event following an angry backlash on Facebook.
Demonstrators were to meet up at the Marine Gardens at 1pm, but Anita Morgan, an 18-year-old student who organised the peaceful protest, has been forced to cancel it over concerns for people's safety.
She said: "As a result of the angry reaction from some people on social media towards this event, I felt that I could not guarantee the safety of people taking part.
"As much as I would love to show our solidarity and support for Black Lives Matter, my main concern has to be public safety.
"I am obviously disappointed that I am not able to support a very good cause by holding this event in my own home town."
This is why Lancashire Police want you to report hate crime
"Hate crime in any form is wrong," says the force on its website.
"By reporting hate crime when it happens, you can help stop it happening to someone else.
"Sometimes the incident might seem too minor to bother the police with but reporting it makes a difference – to you, your friends, and the wider community.
"We know that there are more hate crimes than are reported.
"By reporting hate crime, it helps the police to better understand the level of hate crime in your local area, and improve the way we respond to it.
"Reporting makes a difference."
What is a racist hate crime?
Racist hate crimes are acts which target a victim because of hostility or prejudice towards a person's race or ethnicity.
The Police consider racist abuse in all its ugly forms as a potential hate crime, whether communicated verbally or online.
So any incident or crime which is perceived by the victim to be racist will be recorded as such when it is reported to police.
How can you report it?
If you are a victim of a hate crime, or you think you might have witnessed a hate crime, you can report it, anonymously, online here.
You can also report a hate crime by contacting Crimestoppers on 0800 555111. You do not have to give your name and your report will remain confidential.