Daily Mail

Protect free speech... not thin skin, police told

- By Martin Beckford Policy Editor

POLICE must prioritise freedom of speech over people taking offence under longawaite­d rules unveiled today.

Officers will be told in the fresh Home Office guidance to stop recording trivial online arguments and playground spats as ‘non-crime hate incidents’.

They will be given orders to use common sense and ensure the right to freedom of expression is protected so they can focus on tackling serious crime instead.

Offensive actions will only go on file when absolutely necessary and the personal details of those involved will only be included if they are deemed hostile or at risk of causing significan­t harm.

Last night Home Secretary

‘Tackling serious crimes’

Suella Braverman said: ‘I have been deeply concerned about reports of the police wrongly getting involved in lawful debate in this country. We have been clear that in recording so called noncrime hate incidents, officers must always have freedom of expression at the forefront of their minds.

‘The new code will ensure the police are prioritisi­ng their efforts where it’s really needed and focusing on tackling serious crimes such as burglary, violent offences, rape and other sexual offences.’

The draft code of practice, to be laid before Parliament today, comes after years of concerns that police have been wrongly targeting people over opinions, online comments and even jokes.

The 40-page draft states officers must consider if recording an incident would interfere with the subject’s freedom of expression including ‘lawful debate, humour, satire and personally held views’.

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