Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has pledged to tackle hate crime by funding an independent support service for the region.

Jane Kennedy has announced she will fund national organisation Stop Hate UK to set up a 24/7 helpline offering support and advice to anyone on Merseyside targeted by incidents of abuse, intimidation or hate because of their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender.

As well as offering a round-the-clock service by phone or social media, Stop Hate UK will also launch a campaign aimed at raising awareness of hate crime in the region, and steps that can be taken to combat it.

The decision to fund the service coincided with Ms Kennedy joining officers today in raising the rainbow flag at Merseyside Police headquarters ahead of International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), which is celebrated on May 17 every year.

Ms Kennedy said she had become concerned that the service available to people across the region had become inconsistent.

She said: “Tackling all forms of hate crime is one of my policing priorities.

"Merseyside Police are committed to eradicating crimes motivated by prejudice, intolerance and hatred.

"Nobody should be targeted by abuse or criminal behaviour because of their sexual orientation, transgender, disability, race or religion.

“We know that all forms of hate crime are significantly under-reported."