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British policing’s Orwellian practice of recording ‘non-crime hate incidents’ that blacklist children for thoughtcrime must end

Frank Furedi
Frank Furedi

is an author and social commentator. He is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

is an author and social commentator. He is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte

British policing’s Orwellian practice of recording ‘non-crime hate incidents’ that blacklist children for thoughtcrime must end
Something has gone seriously wrong in this country, when the police take it upon themselves to intimidate a 14 year-old schoolgirl by making an official record of her innocuous statement in class.

The girl, known only as Miss B, became a target of police interest because she, along with millions of other people, took the view that sex is distinct from gender identity. At a time when it is increasingly verboten to question trans ideology’s claims on the subjectivity of both sex and gender identity, Miss B’s views are too often condemned as hatred. 

Miss B, who has indicated that she is ‘frightened about speaking openly on transgender issues’is – along with her parents – seeking legal recourse and challenging the decision of the police to classify her comment as a non-crime hate incident. Her lawyers’ letter to the College of Policing states that Miss B is ‘concerned about the possibility of having a police record potentially including details of conversations that she has had at school’ and fears ‘this record would impact on her future career prospects.’

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What is totally absurd about the predicament Miss B finds herself in, is that she neither demonstrated nor had any intention of demonstrating hostility towards any person. In fact, even the police have not claimed that Miss B hurt the feelings of anyone. She has not done nor said anything hurtful to a single individual. In fact, there is no victim of her action whatsoever, yet still the police involved themselves.

Under existing policing guidelines on hate, you do not need to have done anything remotely hurtful to be made to feel like a criminal. According to these guidelines, officers should make a record of a non-crime hate incident ‘if the victim or any other person perceives that the incident was motivated wholly or partially by hostility, even if it is referred to a partner to respond.’ In this case it is evident that it was the police, or some other busy-body official, who thought Miss B’s comment might be motivated by hostility 

What is truly bizarre about these guidelines is that they empower the police to record not only criminal acts but non-criminal acts as well. The Orwellian concept of a non-crime hate incident is an invention of a legal system gone woke. 

A non-crime hate incident can be any event that is perceived by someone to be motivated by hostility towards a so-called protected characteristic. ‘Perceived’ means that it is in the eyes of the beholder. As the Operational Guidance points out: “The victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief, and police officers or staff should not directly challenge this perception. Evidence of the hostility is not required for an incident or crime to be recorded as a hate crime or hate incidents.’

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This is dangerous territory: there need not be any evidence of hatred for an incident to be registered in the police-recorded hate-crime data. This is an evidence free crime!

All that is required for a statement to be cast into the realm of a non-crime hate incident is for somebody to report it to the police! The force will then automatically record it as a non-crime hate incident. The main motive of recording a statement made by someone like Miss B is to teach her a lesson and to crack down on individuals that hold views that diverge from the official line on gender.

In the current era, the register of recorded non-crime hate incidents plays an important role in the censor’s toolkit. It is a register of dissent designed to shut down free speech.

The main reason why the concept of hate crime is wrong in principle is because by focusing on the emotion of hate it deprives the legal system of objectivity. The meaning of the expression of the emotion, in this case hate, is in the eye of the beholder. That is why police guidelines claim that what makes a crime one of hate is how it is perceived.

Under the existing law, it doesn’t matter what you intended to communicate, what matters is how anyone else interpreted your intentions. It is enough for a policeman to imagine that a 14 year-old child’s statement might have been motivated by hostility for it to be branded a non-crime hate incident. Even though the incident is an essentially imaginary one, the child is punished.

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In this case there is only one victim – and it is Miss B.

In our censorious world recording non-crime hate incidents has become a growth industry. During the past five years the police have recorded 120,000 hate incidents. Evidently the policing of speech takes precedence over tackling genuine threats to law and order.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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