Temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon said: "Over the past week, a number of social media posts were issued on our Leicestershire Police Stay Safe account aiming to raise awareness of hate crime. This was as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week.
"While we recognise that people have strong and often conflicting views regarding this issue, we should not forget the seriousness of hate crime and the devastating crimes that as a country we have seen in the past which have happened as a result of hate crime.
"Hate crimes are acts of violence or hostility directed at people because of who they are. Hate crime law in England and Wales have developed in various phases over the past two decades and the law recognises five protected characteristics; race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
"As a force, like all other forces, our priority is to prevent and detect crime. This includes raising awareness of different crimes, the impact these crimes can have and informing where victims of these crimes can report the offence and access support. Hate crime laws have been introduced following tragic incidents and are part of legislation. It is vitally important that we raise awareness of hate crime and work together to stop it from happening.
"We are however aware that during our hate crime awareness campaign there have been a significant number of comments relating to some of the posts. I am sorry that our posts may have caused some upset. I know that was not the intention of our communications team who I know are committed to helping the force to prevent and detect crime and to raise awareness.
"To clarify in relation to the posts, the images used were stock images obtained by the team. The source of those images had been considered to be reliable and the words on the posts were provided by an experienced police staff member who has significant knowledge of the different types of hate crime people can be and have been subjected to.
"Having examined the posts I believe we as a force should have made clear that the images were stock images and that the names given were fictitious for illustration purposes. For completeness, I am also having a scenario presented checked against current national hate crime recording policy.
"As a result, we have now removed the posts and will be reviewing how we use stock images and raise awareness of hate crime going forward. However, I do ask that people please remember the importance of the message which the posts related to – that hate crime is impactive and an offence and together we should be working to ‘Stamp it Out’.
"Finally, by way of some context I would like to share with you that our force communications work does consistently cover a whole range of subjects with the sole aim of informing the communities of what we are doing in an attempt to prevent and detect crime .
"As an example, last week, as well as our hate crime awareness posts, we issued posts about our drug enforcement work and county lines being dismantled during County Lines Intensification Week as well as our ongoing policing operation in East Leicester and ensuring that Diwali celebrations could continue safely. This was in addition to public appeals in relation to other offences as well as updates regarding arrests and charges made and convictions in court following dedicated police investigations."