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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 June 2005, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Wristband scheme to combat hate crime
The police have launched a wristband to highlight hate crime
Police in Northern Ireland have joined in the wristband craze sweeping the nation in a bid to combat the problem of hate crime in the province.

The multi-coloured wristbands are being distributed amongst school pupils from primary five to primary seven by community and schools liaison officers.

The message "Respect Difference" is embossed on the band along with the PSNI website address - www.psni.police.uk - which has a large section on hate crimes.

A police spokesman said they hoped the scheme would help encourage children to respect everyone regardless of their "creed, religion, race, colour or sexuality".

"We believe it is for everyone to promote respect and police feel that this initiative will contribute towards that," he said.

The multi-coloured bands have deliberately been made the colour of every wristband currently available.

Officers have been handing them out to children during visits to primary schools and at events.

'Irresponsible scheme'

Stocks of the bands have been sent to police stations across the province.

"Anyone can pop into their local station and pick up a wristband," said the spokesman.

However, Sinn Fein Londonderry councillor Billy Page criticised the scheme as "irresponsible".

He alleged that plain clothed police officers had handed out the bands in the Northlands area of city because they had not been permitted into schools in the nationalist area.

He said the police were "working against" their Stranger Danger scheme by giving the bands out in the street.

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