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Offensive video - statement

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

In December last year we were made aware of a video widely circulating on social media which showed a man in a car in Preston making a number of offensive comments.

As soon as this video came to our attention we launched an investigation and we arrested a 41-year-old man from Preston on suspicion of religiously aggravated harassment.  Four further men, all from Preston, voluntarily attended at a police station and were also questioned under caution in connection with the incident. 

We have conducted detailed and wide ranging enquiries in relation to what happened, including the use of our digital specialists.  We have also considered a number of possible offences.  However, after liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service, the decision has been made by them that no further action will be taken.

We understand the significant upset the comments in the video have caused to many people in Preston and beyond.  However, our primary role is to investigate whether any criminal offences have occurred and it is therefore important to clarify how this decision has been reached.

The video was initially posted into a private WhatsApp group containing a very small number of people.  There is evidence to support the 41-year-old man’s claim that he did not intend for the video to be shared beyond that small number of people and despite numerous exhaustive enquiries, we are unable to determine how it was distributed beyond that group and by whom.  There is therefore no evidence to prove that the arrested man had any intention to incite or stir up religious hatred amongst the general public.
A separate offence of sending a grossly offensive/indecent or menacing message by a public communication network was also put to the Crown Prosecution Service, but it was decided by them that it did not meet the evidential test for a criminal offence.

Chief Inspector Steven Sansbury said: "I fully appreciate the distress and public interest that this video caused and have been determined to make sure a robust and thorough investigation was conducted, and all possible offences that may have been committed were considered.  We work hard to keep communities across Preston safe and feeling safe and, as part of the investigation, we have spoken to a number of individuals and community organisations to reassure them. 

“We are absolutely determined to tackle all crime motivated by hate and prejudice and I would urge anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to have the confidence to come forward and report it to us. We will always deal with victims of hate crime professionally and sympathetically and do everything we can to both support them and seek justice wherever a crime has been committed."

Hate crimes can be reported to us by calling 101 or using our non-emergency on line crime reporting site via www.lancashire.police.uk/reportonline

Hate crimes can also be reported through True Vision, a national online reporting facility at www.report-it.org.uk For more information about hate crime and how to report it click here https://www.lancashire.police.uk/help-advice/personal-safety/hate-crime/
Lancashire Victim Services offer specialist support to any victim of hate crime lancashirevictimservices.org

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