Police to ignore trivial "hate incidents"Freedom of Speech
New College of Policing guidance instructs officers to disregard "trivial" or "irrational" reports, and upholds the right to free speech.
The interim guidance, which will be superseded by an upcoming code of practice from the Home Office, focuses on so-called "hate incidents".
The recording of these non-criminal incidents, which involve "perceived" hatred or hostility towards protected groups, is encouraged across forces.
But free speech groups are concerned they can be weaponised by activists keen to shut down debate relating to certain topics.
For example, women with gender critical views have been reported to officers for expressing concern about trans ideology.
Christian street preachers asked to comment on sexuality or biology have also been accused of "hate incidents".
The College of Policing guidance states that:
- Non-crime hate incidents should not be recorded where they are trivial, irrational, or if there is no basis to conclude that an incident was motivated by hostility.
- Individuals who are commenting in a legitimate debate – for example, on political or social issues – should not be stigmatised because someone is offended.
- If a record is made, it must be done in the least intrusive way possible – for example, it may not be necessary to record the name of an individual or the location of an incident.