‘Protect free speech… not thin skin’: Police told to focus on ‘tackling serious crime’ and stop recording trivial arguments online as ‘non-crime hate incidents’
- Officers must stop recording trivial online disputes as ‘non-criminal hate incidents’
- New guidelines say offensive actions will only be archived when necessary
Police must prioritize free speech over people who take offense under the long-awaited rules unveiled today.
In new Home Office guidance, officers will be told to stop recording online trivial arguments and fights on the playground as “non-crime hate incidents”.
They will be instructed to use common sense and ensure the right to free speech is protected so they can focus on fighting serious crime.
Offensive actions will only be archived when absolutely necessary and the personal data of those involved will only be included if they are considered hostile or at risk of causing significant harm.
Last night Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “I have been deeply concerned by reports that the 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.
Last night Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she was “deeply concerned by reports that police have wrongly become involved in a legal debate in this country.”
New Home Office guidance will tell officers to stop recording online trivial arguments and playground disputes as “non-crime hate incidents”.
“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.”
The draft code of conduct, due to go before Parliament today, comes after years of concerns that police have been wrongly targeting people for their opinions, online comments and even jokes.
The 40-page draft must consider whether recording an incident would interfere with the subject’s freedom of expression, including “legal debate, humor, satire and personal opinions.”