The Daily Telegraph

Koran row fuels hate crime review

Braverman to limit police recording non-criminal extremism cases after boy received death threats

- By Gabriella Swerling Social and Religious affairs editor

THE Home Secretary is to crack down on police needlessly recording “noncrime hate incidents” in the wake of a row over the handling of the Koran at a school in West Yorkshire.

Last year, the College of Policing, the police profession­al standards body, changed its guidance to stop officers recording incidents that do not amount to a crime.

Despite this, officers said an incident in which the Muslim holy book was damaged was a “non-crime hate incident” (NCHI).

Suella Braverman’s interventi­on comes after a schoolboy, 14, who is reportedly autistic, received death threats after a copy of the Koran was damaged.

Police were called to investigat­e after the book was dropped and sustained minor damage – but officers concluded that no crime had been committed.

It is not clear who dropped the book, or how it was damaged at Kettlethor­pe High School in Wakefield.

Officers recorded it as NCHI, which is used to note incidents that fail to meet the criminal threshold. Whitehall sources told The Daily Telegraph last night that as a result of the row, Ms Braverman will issue guidance later this month to remind police forces only to record NCHIS where it is “proportion­ate and absolutely necessary”.

She will also tell police to remove from their records any such incidents that do not meet the threshold so that they do not show up in future enhanced police checks.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) has criticised the Home Secretary, accusing her of “ignoring the common sense approach” to “establish the full facts” of the incident.

They said she “twisted a local issue from a school playground to fit preexistin­g national agendas and ideologies”.

Mrs Braverman has already made clear that she believes the police overreacte­d to the incident and that she believes that the way in which NCHIS are recorded are insufficie­nt and require reform. She also expressed her “deep concern” over the incident at Kettlethor­pe High School and said it is “appalling” that an autistic pupil has received death threats.

Earlier this week, it emerged that West Yorkshire Police became involved in the incident after the Year 10 pupil took a copy of the Islamic holy book into his school as a forfeit for losing on the Call of Duty video game.

However, the book was dropped on the floor causing a small tear on the cover and scuffing to some pages. Muslims are taught to handle the Koran with respect and care and in some cases wash their hands before touching it.

Separately, four pupils were suspended from the school – after it was dropped – prompting criticism from humanist and free speech campaign groups. A spokesman for MCB said: “Over the past week, there has been speculativ­e reporting around an alleged incident at a Wakefield school involving the damage – wilful or otherwise – of the holy Koran.

“Unfortunat­ely, many commentato­rs from all sides including the Home Secretary, have ignored this common sense approach and have taken immediatel­y to social media to comment on the issue, twisting a local issue from a school playground to fit pre-existing national agendas and ideologies.

“The MCB condemns any calls for violence and calls for cooler heads to prevail.”

The West Yorkshire Police force was contacted for comment.

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