Vile online racial abuse aimed at Glasgow primary school pupils photographed with the First Minister has been reported to police as a hate crime.

Glasgow City Council said disgusting social media messages are being investigated after being posted in response to a photo of pupils from multi-cultural St Albert's Primary School with Nicola Sturgeon.

The racist abuse was posted online as Glasgow prepares to take part in this year's National Hate Crime Awareness Week from October 8th - 16th.

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A hate crime is any crime motivated by prejudice  and hostility towards a person's identity or perceived identity. This could be their race, religion, sexual orientation, transgender identity or disability.

HeraldScotland: St Albert's Primary School pupils were subjected to racist online abuse after picture with Nicola SturgeonSt Albert's Primary School pupils were subjected to racist online abuse after picture with Nicola Sturgeon (Image: Twitter)

It is believed that hate crime is under-reported across the UK and National Hate Crime Awareness Week aims to highlight exactly what a hate crime is, and encourage victims to report it instead of suffering in silence.

Ms Sturgeon responded on social media, saying: “Every brilliant young person and every member of staff @StAlbertsG41 is worth a million and more of the vile racists who hurl abuse at them."

Superintendent Patrick Murphy, of Police Scotland, said they are continuing with enquiries and providing support to St Albert's Primary School.

He added: "Police Scotland operates a zero tolerance approach to hate crime on social media platforms and those identified will be dealt with in the appropriate manner. We would encourage anyone to report social media hate crime offences to Police Scotland on 101 or at a designated third party reporting centre. We are committed to providing a professional and consistent approach to victims of hate crime, treating everyone equally with due regard to their differences.”

Clare Harker, Head teacher at St Albert's Primary in Maxwell Drive, did not hesitate to inform police of the sickening online abuse and feels strongly that everyone must stand up to hate crime.

She said: "We were shocked and horrified by the abuse posted in response to a photo of children in one of our classes. Thankfully the pupils in the photo are unaware of the online abuse as they're so young, but all the teachers and parents are appalled.

"Thank-you to everyone, including the First Minister, for their messages of support for the children and school. Their kind words have helped reaffirm our faith in human beings following the disgusting online abuse.

"People should not be afraid to report hate crime. It is very important that, when it happens, we all do so. In our experience, the police will treat it very seriously. We had officers in the school yesterday and it sends out a very clear message to our older pupils and our wider community that no-one should tolerate abuse - it must be reported."

Glasgow City Council is working with partners including Interfaith Glasgow, the Scottish Ethnic Minority Deaf Club and Glasgow Disability Alliance to urge people to stand up to hate crime. The week of activities also involves primary and secondary school pupils from across the city. Young people are taking part in workshops and a poster competition encouraging people to spread love not hate. 

PARTIE 22 (Promoting Anti-Racism Together in Education) is also taking place this month. It's a four week series of citywide anti-racism events led by our education services and includes a session in Glasgow City Chambers celebrating the work schools do to tackle racism.

Councillor Christina Cannon, Glasgow's Convener for Education and Equalities, said: "Glasgow is proud to be an inclusive city enriched by its diversity. Our slogan is People Make Glasgow and that means all people. We do not tolerate hate crime and I encourage anyone who witnesses it or experiences it to report it either to the police or via a Third Party Reporting Centre.

"I'm proud that Glasgow is working with a wide range of partners including inter-faith,  disability groups and the Scottish Ethnic Minority Deaf Club to highlight Hate Crime Awareness Week. Sadly, the online abuse aimed at children in one of our primary schools is a sickening reminder of precisely why everyone needs to stand up to hate crime."

Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Disability Alliance are also hosting a free hate crime event on Friday October 14 from 12.30pm -1.30pm. The hybrid event will feature a question and answer session with the council's Hate Crime Policy Officer and a guest speaker from Police Scotland. To join via Zoom register at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/what-is-a-hate-crime-and-how-can-i-report-it-tickets-428454377577  To attend in person email Danni.Glover@glasgow.gov.uk