The Sunday Telegraph

Electricia­n wins battles over ‘hate incident’ on his record

- By Ewan Somerville

POLICE handed an electricia­n a “noncrime hate incident” without him knowing, after he refused to work with a customer who he feared would not pay the bill.

Kevin Mills, 63, arrived at a client’s house in Maidstone, Kent, to install a bathroom mirror, where he discovered an additional £50 of materials would be needed.

When the client objected and insisted upon keeping suction couplers purchased for the job, Mr Mills determined that trust had broken down and he would not complete the work.

As he began to leave, Mr Mills told the client who he believed was behaving churlishly that “I’m not working for someone like you,” or words to that effect. He said the woman pursued him as he gathered his tools, calling him “a t---” and “unprofessi­onal”.

Mr Mills says the client, known only as AB, then threw a cup of hot tea at him and slammed the front door shut.

The electricia­n phoned Kent Police to report an assault following the incident on Feb 12, 2019 and was later informed that no further action would be taken.

But more than two years later, he realised he had been handed a “noncrime hate incident” (NCHI), which are not crimes but still show on enhanced DBS checks. The police record said that Mr Mills was suspected of carrying out a racial hate incident, which he later discovered was for his alleged words, “I’m not working for someone like you”, which he says was directed at the client’s manner, not her minority ethnicity.

The Free Speech Union (FSU) intervened to raise concerns about Mr Mills’ freedom of expression, right to a private life and his data privacy, prompting Kent Police this month to agree to finally delete the record.

Under police guidance for NCHIs, 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”.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the guidance unlawfully interferes with the right to free expression following a challenge in December.

Around 120,000 NCHIs were recorded by police forces in England and Wales between 2014 and 2019.

Mr Mills said: “I would like an apology from Kent Police. If I was to tender for work in certain places like a school then [the NCHI] may well affect me. ”

Superinten­dent Pete Steenhuis, at Kent Police, said: “Kent Police has agreed to delete its record of the noncrime hate incident.”

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