Freedom of speech to be prioritised over taking offence under draft guidelines
Police will prioritise freedom of speech over taking offence in non-crime hate incidents if new draft guidelines issued by the Home Secretary pass Parliament.
Suella Braverman said the draft guidelines, which will go before Parliament on Monday, will prevent police “wrongly getting involved in lawful debate”.
Under the guidance, the police will only record so-called non-crime hate incidents when it is “absolutely necessary and proportionate” and not “simply because someone is offended”, the Home Office said in a release.
Personal data will only be recorded for incidents “motivated by intentional hostility” and where there is a “real risk of significant harm”.
Ms Braverman said officers must have freedom of expression “at the forefront of their minds”.
“I have been deeply concerned about reports of the police wrongly getting involved in lawful debate in this country,” she said.
“We have been clear that, in recording so called non-crime hate incidents, officers must always have freedom of expression at the forefront of their minds.
“The new code will ensure the police are prioritising their efforts where it’s really needed and focusing on tackling serious crimes such as burglary, violent offences, rape and other sexual offences.”
Crime, policing and fire minister Chris Philp said the guidelines create a “clear threshold” that must be met for hate incidents to be recorded.
“We are committed to supporting the police to fulfil their vital role of keeping the public safe, including tackling the scourge of hate crime,” he said.
“Their focus must remain on catching dangerous criminals and bringing them to justice.
“That’s why we’re taking action to ensure a clear threshold must be met in order for incidents of this type to be recorded.”
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