The British College of Policing is facing a massive pushback for its collection of “hate incidents,” which a former police officer, Harry Miller, says is a form of “Stasi by stealth.” The policy will be completely overhauled thanks to the efforts of Home Secretary Priti Patel, who says that police should investigate “actual crimes, not hurt feelings.”
Miller and other campaigners are calling for 120,000 “hate incidents” to be deleted from police records after a court found that the College of Policing guidance, which saw tweets about transgender issues recorded as “hate incidents.” The court ruled that the records had a “chilling effect” on free speech.
Miller won a landmark Court of Appeal challenge against police guidance on the matter, Daily Mail reported. Miller, who describes himself as “gender critical” launched the lawsuit after an anonymous complaint was made about dozens of allegedly “transphobic” posts on his Twitter account regarding alterations to Britain’s gender recognition laws.
The retired police officer was visited by police at work and threatened with prosecution if he did not cease commenting on trans issues. He was told that the matter was recorded as a “non-crime hate incident.”
As detailed by the publication, “non-crime hate incidents” were introduced in 2014 following recommendations by the Macpherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. The incidents are recorded as “any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice,” per College of Policing guidelines.
Such incidents will appear in criminal record checks for six years with no grounds for appeal.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is now calling for the College of Policing to get rid of the policy, with plans to overhaul laws on “hate incidents.” Patel told police that they should not investigate “hurt feelings” and instead focus on “actual crimes.”
Under Patel’s proposed code, enacted by an amendment to the Government’s Policing Bill, individuals will no longer have to worry about their job prospects being threatened for making comments that may be offensive, but not criminal.
“The police will always have my backing to fully investigate hate crimes, but they must do so whilst protecting the fundamental right of freedom of expression,” said Patel. “Some current practices are having a dangerous impact on free speech and potentially stopping people expressing their views. This amendment will ensure every police officer abides by a Code of Practice, approved by Parliament, when recording such allegations.”
Under the existing policy, one man ended up on police records for “racial hatred” after he whistled the Bob the Builder song at his neighbour. Other incidents include a swimming teacher who was given a police record after a child’s mother claimed her son was allowed to bang his head at the side of the pool “due to his ethnicity.” A gay man, who alleged he was ripped off by a drug dealer because of his sexuality, was also recorded as a hate incident, the Daily Mail reported.
In arguing the case, Miller’s lawyers called the College of Policing’s guidance “completely irrational.”
Toby Young, the director general of the Free Speech Union, told Mail Online that anyone who lost their job because they had a “hate incident” in their police record should now sue the police following the ruling.
Pro-Brexit commentator Darren Grimes says that “Orwellian non-crimes” are used to “stifle speech and debate.”
Grimes was visited by the London Metropolitan Police on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred after historian David Starkey appeared on Grimes’ YouTube channel to comment on the Black Lives Matter riots. Starkey remarked, “Slavery was not genocide, otherwise there wouldn't be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?”
While such views may be offensive to some, free speech must always be safeguarded and defended lest we become unable to criticize even the government.