A feminist teacher quashed a ‘hate incident’ recorded against her by police following her posts on social media about trans issues.
Cathy Kirby had police officers contact her after trans activists claimed her Twitter posts were “transphobic”.
Despite not having been charged with any criminal offence, Norfolk police later told Ms Kirby that there had been a “non-criminal hate incident” against her.
Although the incident was quashed, the 57-year-old from Norwich, Norfolk said she was never told which of her tweets were considered ‘transphobic’.
Ms Kirby, who regularly posts about the threat to women’s rights posed by trans ideology, said she believed activists had used the police to indirectly harass her.
Cathy Kirby, 57, had to quash a “hate incident” filed against her by police after someone sued her for a tweet about not liking the trans colors on the new pride flag.
The letter to the Norfolk Police teacher confirming the removal of the non-crime hate incident from her police record
Ms Kirby believes the police incident could have followed her post about the rainbow pride flag having additional colors added to represent trans people.
She said: “I made a comment on Twitter calling the new flag Pride, saying I didn’t particularly like the trans colors that were added because I felt the original was okay as it represented trans people.”
The officers gave him advice, but it was only later that he discovered that the non-crime hate incident had been put on his record after he asked Norfolk police for more information about his case.
The phrase is defined by current Police College guidance as “any non-criminal incident that is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice.”
Ms Kirby said she feared it would affect background checks for her career teaching English to students at the online school, even though it is not a criminal record.
She said the reference was only removed from her record last October after a long battle involving legal experts and a cybercrime charity.
She said: ‘These people tried to destroy not only my income and career, but also my reputation. Norfolk Police agreed.
“It’s really scary and quite sinister. Basically this small group has been attacking me for my beliefs and I feel like the police are sending computers to scold me for something I’ve tweeted and they’re harassing me by proxy.
“There are plenty of real crimes they could be investigating, without knocking on the door of a 58-year-old woman about people offended by a tweet.”
Ms Kirby, who describes herself online as a “wife, mother, feminist, dog lover, outdoorsman and passionate advocate for children’s rights”, said she had been attacked by a “very outspoken little group” due to their critical views regarding the genre.
She added: “Over the past five years, they have used more than 20 anonymous Twitter accounts to slander and defame me.”
Norfolk police visited her home after she named a Twitter account she believed was behind an anonymous death threat.
Ms Kirby said she had also been visited on other occasions by officers investigating her claims that she had been harassed on social media.
Writing on her blog, she described claims that she was transphobic as “false and totally laughable”.
She added: ‘I stand up for the rights of women, children and the gay, lesbian and bisexual community. Nothing I’ve said sounds like transphobia.
‘We live in a democracy built on free speech and my views are worthy of respect. The rights of others are clearly not important to the group attacking me, they just wanted to cause me distress by any means possible.
‘This was a unified effort, to make me lose my income. I’m a teacher and if an NCHI shows up on an enhanced check from DBS, I would lose my job.’
Ms Kirby said she believed her case raised further questions about the extent to which police engage in controversial online debates.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman called on the forces to stop recording online arguments as non-crime hate incidents.
Last week, Home Secretary Suella Braverman released draft guidelines for the forces, demanding they prioritize free speech over people who take offense and stop recording online arguments as hate incidents that they are not crimes.
Ms Braverman said: ‘I have been deeply concerned by reports that police have wrongly become involved in a legal debate in this country.
“We have made it clear that when recording so-called non-criminal hate incidents, officers should always keep free speech at the forefront of their minds.
“The new code will ensure that the police prioritize their effort where it is really needed and focus on tackling serious crimes such as robbery, violent crime, rape and other sexual offences.”
Norfolk Police and Crime Commissioner Giles Orpen-Smellie also recently said he wanted officers to focus on investigating crimes like robberies and domestic violence, and to resist engaging in police arguments on social media.
He added that he did not want Norfolk officers spending their time “sitting on Facebook looking for people who are rude.”
Ms Kirby said she had received death threats over her education-related tweets, including one from an anonymous account calling for her crucifixion, which she reported to the police.
They told him that UK residents had been visited by officers as a result of their complaints, but that a man in the US was outside the jurisdiction of British police.
A Norfolk Police spokesperson said: “Over the past five years, we have investigated numerous allegations and counter-allegations of online harassment in respect of four individuals.
“Following consultations, no further action has been taken in any investigation and advice has been offered to all parties involved.
“If a member of the public reports harassing behavior, we have a duty to investigate and we will respond proportionately.”