Police should wipe allegations of so-called non-crime hate incidents from the record if no crime was found to have been committed, Home Secretary Priti Patel reportedly told police leaders.
In the United Kingdom, police forces throughout the country record so-called non-crime hate incidents in criminal databases, resulting in the non-offences being discoverable in background checks — possibly resulting in repercussions for individual who did not actually commit a crime, still less be convicted of one.
Under current law, there is no appeal process.
The Home Secretary requested that the College of Policing conduct a review of the policy, according to The Sunday Telegraph.
A Home Office source told the paper: “These so-called ‘non-crime hate incidents’ have a chilling effect on free speech and potentially stop people expressing views legally and legitimately. If people are found to have done nothing wrong, the police shouldn’t punish them.”
Police forces have reportedly recorded non-hate crime incidents involving as many as 120,000 people. No police force has been able to point to a single crime that was prevented through the collection of non-crimes such as offensive online posts, however.
The UK Hate Crime Operational Guidelines state that non-crime hate incident allegations “must be recorded regardless of whether or not they are the victim, and irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element [of the incident]”.
UK Police Force Doubles Down on ‘Non-Crime Hate Incidents’ After Social Media Backlash https://t.co/bUIl7FAiNY
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 12, 2018
A former police officer, Harry Miller, who was investigated by police after he allegedly shared “transphobic” content online, has since sued the police force for Humberside on freedom of speech grounds.
Miller welcomed the intervention from Patel, but demanded that the Home Secretary to go further: “We call on the Home Secretary to withdraw the Guidance, close down The College [of Policing], and let the public reclaim a police service that is content with upholding the law.”
“The College of Policing Hate Crimes Guidance is an assault on freedom. It requires the police to remove the presumption of innocence and generate records without the need for evidence, let alone proof.
“The idea that a law-abiding citizen can have their name recorded against a hate incident on a crime report when there was neither hate nor crime undermines principles of justice, free expression, democracy and common sense,” Miller told Breitbart London’s James Delingpole in 2019.
Assistant Chief Constable Iain Raphael, of the College of Policing, defended the programme, claiming that police would be unable to collect information to “monitor the build-up of tensions within a community” without it.
“Freedom of speech is an essential part of our democracy. The guidance helps police balance the rights and needs of people complaining of non-criminal hate incidents without impinging on freedom of expression. Non-crime hate incidents can be precursors to subsequent violent crime,” he claimed.
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 13, 2018
Meanwhile, free speech campaigners have forced the government into considering a review of Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, which criminalises sending messages which are deemed to be “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or [causing] any such message or matter to be so sent.”
To date, over 13,000 people have signed a petition to repeal the act, surpassing the 10,000 required to force the government to consider a debate on the issue.
Aside from calling for the law to be scrapped, the petition goes on to call on the government to expunge all convictions against those who have been prosecuted under the act.
‘Dislike’ and ‘Unfriendliness’ Can Be Hate Crimes, UK Police Confirm
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 25, 2017
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