A piece in today’s Times:
Allegations of hate speech made against 120,000 people have been logged by police, prompting criticism that they have diverted attention from forces tackling other priorities, such as violent crime.
Campaigners added that logging “non-crime hate incidents”, even after police had decided that what had been said or posted online had broken no laws, had a “chilling effect” on free speech.
In response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request, none of the 43 police forces in England and Wales could cite any crime that had been prevented and 20 said that they did not have a system to monitor the effectiveness of recording the claims. [J4MB emphasis]
The replies to the FoI requests will be submitted as evidence next month during a Court of Appeal case against the College of Policing, which has faced criticism for saying that social media hate crime should be treated as a priority.
Non-crime hate incident reports were introduced in 2014 after recommendations were made by the independent Macpherson inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Critics say that their use has gone beyond what was intended and that they unnecessarily burden police resources.
Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group of MPs and peers, told The Mail on Sunday: “There is a real threat in our society of the development of a thought police where only certain views are permitted and all else is at best regarded as unacceptable and at worst is deemed illegal. We must not meander into an Orwellian world where certain views are proscribed by an unrepresented and zealous minority who are determined to eradicate any views that are not compatible with their own. They are undermining the very essence of what it is to live in a free society.”
Senior officers have insisted that logging such incidents helps them to “measure tensions effectively and to prevent serious hostility and violence”. Paul Giannasi, hate crime adviser for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, has argued that they may be the start of an escalating process of “dehumanisation and ultimately murder”.
Reports of non-crime hate incidents can show up in criminal record checks for six years and there are no grounds to appeal against them. Police guidelines were updated recently so that they apply to schoolchildren and state that hate incidents can include “ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike”. [J4MB emphasis]
Harry Miller, co-founder of the Fair Cop campaign group, which carried out the survey of forces, told the Mail: “Non-crime hate incident reports do not appear to have any usefulness as a crime prevention tool, but what they do have is a chilling effect on free speech because they make people think twice before saying or posting something on social media in the fear that it could land them with a criminal record.
“These reports have allowed the police to become weaponised by woke activists who seek to attack and shut people up if they dare to express any views that they do not agree with.”
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