Po­lice re­port 120,000 cases of ‘non-crime’ hate in­ci­dents

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Izzy Lyons, Jack Hardy and Martin Evans

PO­LICE have recorded nearly 120,000 “non-crime” hate in­ci­dents which may have pre­vented the ac­cused from get­ting jobs, The Daily Tele­graph can dis­close.

De­spite po­lice ac­cept­ing that such in­ci­dents are not crimes, they are still logged on a sys­tem and can show up dur­ing a crim­i­nal records check when ap­ply­ing for work.

The fig­ures were re­vealed as Harry Miller, a for­mer po­lice officer, won his court bat­tle against Hum­ber­side Po­lice, who in­ves­ti­gated him over al­leged “transphobi­c” tweets.

A High Court judge ruled that the Hate Crime Op­er­a­tional Guide­lines, used by forces na­tion­ally, had been un­law­fully used to in­ter­fere with Mr Miller’s free­dom of speech.

The guide­lines, in­tro­duced six years ago by the Col­lege of Polic­ing, say any ac­tion per­ceived to be mo­ti­vated by hos­til­ity to­wards re­li­gion, race or trans­gen­der iden­tity must be recorded “ir­re­spec­tive of whether there is any ev­i­dence to iden­tify the hate el­e­ment”.

A to­tal of 119,934 non-crime in­ci­dents were recorded by 34 forces in Eng­land and Wales be­tween 2014, when the guid­ance came in, and 2019.

By far the most in­ci­dents were recorded by South Wales Po­lice, who logged 13,856 cases – ex­ceed­ing the coun­try’s big­gest po­lice force, the Metropoli­tan Po­lice, by more than 4,000.

The Metropoli­tan Po­lice logged 9,473, fol­lowed by Mersey­side, at 8,644, and Sur­rey, at 8,256, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures ob­tained un­der Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion laws by The Tele­graph.

In a land­mark rul­ing, the High Court found the force had a “chill­ing ef­fect” on the free speech rights of Mr Miller by vis­it­ing his place of work and sug­gest­ing he may face pros­e­cu­tion.

The mar­ried father of four was con­tacted by a com­mu­nity co­he­sion officer af­ter a Twit­ter user com­plained he had shared a “transphobi­c lim­er­ick”.

Mr Jus­tice Ju­lian Knowles com­pared the ac­tions of the po­lice to the Stasi and Gestapo, as he ruled the tweets were

law­ful, and said there was not “the slight­est risk” Mr Miller would com­mit a crim­i­nal of­fence by con­tin­u­ing to tweet.

The right to hold opin­ions rang­ing from the inof­fen­sive to “the ir­ri­tat­ing, the con­tentious, the ec­cen­tric, the hereti­cal, the un­wel­come and the provoca­tive”, he said, was a “car­di­nal demo­cratic free­dom”.

The judge added that the UK has never lived in an “Orewellian society” nor had it ex­pe­ri­enced “a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi”.

Clutch­ing a copy of 1984 out­side court, Mr Miller, 54, hailed the out­come as a “wa­ter­shed mo­ment for lib­erty” and vowed to con­tinue tweet­ing. His solic­i­tor, Paul Con­rathe, said the rul­ing meant it was “en­tirely ac­cept­able to hold the view and com­mu­ni­cate that a trans woman is not a woman”.

“That view is not hate­ful, transphobi­c or un­law­ful,” he said.

The 65-page judg­ment said the re­ac­tion of the woman who com­plained about Mr Miller’s tweets, named as Mrs B, was, at times, “at the outer mar­gin of ra­tio­nal­ity”. The judge said her state­ment – which sug­gested Mr Miller would have been anti-semitic dur­ing the Se­cond World War – rep­re­sented an “ex­treme mind­set”.

It is ex­pected that Mr Miller’s case will now be tested at the Supreme

Court, af­ter Mr Jus­tice Knowles granted a “leapfrog cer­tifi­cate” to al­low it to skip the Court of Ap­peal stage.

Ian Wise QC, rep­re­sent­ing Mr Miller, cited non-crime statis­tics re­vealed by The Tele­graph as he asked for the cer­tifi­cate to be granted.

He told the court: “I say that it is an is­sue that is in­evitably go­ing to go the

Supreme Court at some junc­ture in the near fu­ture and there is some ur­gency about this – these is­sues are aris­ing on a daily ba­sis.”

Mr Jus­tice Knowles re­jected Mr Miller’s wider chal­lenge to the law­ful­ness of the Col­lege of Po­lice guid­ance, rul­ing that it “serves le­git­i­mate pur­poses and is not dis­pro­por­tion­ate”.

Harry Miller cel­e­brates vic­tory yes­ter­day on the steps of the court with his sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Gra­ham Line­han, the com­edy writer and cre­ator of Father Ted, who has been one of his most vo­cif­er­ous back­ers on so­cial me­dia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.