More than 87,000 ‘non-crime hate incidents’ have been recorded over the past five years by 27 forces across England and Wales, when the national policing body introduced its Hate Crime Operational Guidelines. “Non-crime hate incidents” are defined by the force as “any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice”. Five strands are monitored nationally: race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation; disability; and transgender identity and must be recorded “irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element.” By using the same system that logs real crimes, the result can lead to the offences appearing on an individual’s background check despite not committing a crime.
The law commission is currently reviewing whether to make misogyny and ageism a hate crime.
The figures, which were obtained under a Freedom of Information request by The Telegraph, come as the number of criminal offenses for which someone has been charged has fallen to its lowest level recorded, down to 7.8 per cent from 15.5 per cent in 2015.
The rate of violent crime in the UK has also risen, particularly involving knives, with police reporting 44,000 knife crimes last year alone, up from 41,000 the year before.
In 2018, Metropolitan Police Service Commissioner Cressida Dick decried the lack of focus in the police force.
“My officers are very busy, they are very stretched. We have young people in London subject to gang violence, getting involved in drug dealing, stabbings, lots and lots of priorities,” she had said.
The scheme to tackle “hate” in the UK also includes the monitoring of social media, which police have asked the public to report on “things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing”.
The UK Hate Crime Operational Guidelines state that non-crime hate incidents “must be recorded regardless of whether or not they are the victim, and irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element”.
A former police officer, Harry Miller, who was investigated by police in Humberside, after sharing allegedly “transphobic” tweets online, has since taken the police force to court on freedom of speech grounds.
The judge presiding in the case, Mr Justice Knowles, questioned the legality of the police guidelines, saying: “That doesn’t make sense to me. How can it be a hate incident if there is no evidence of the hate element?”
“Freedom of expression laws are not there to protect statements such as ‘kittens are cute’ — but they are there to protect unpleasant things. Its utility lies in exposing people to things that they do not want to hear,” added the judge.
Speaking to Breitbart London earlier this year, Mr Miller said: “I told [the investigating officer] about George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. I said it was a dystopian novel, not a set of police guidelines.”
The ruling on Mr Miller’s case is expected to be given later this month.