LET’S hope that the Government means it this time.
Yesterday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman said she will ban police from recording trivial “non-crime hate incidents”.
The whole concept, she said, was “Orwellian”.
She added: “Non-crime hate incidents must not distract the police from their core duties, they should not be used to inhibit free speech.”
Fine words, indeed.
Only, we have heard it all before from Conservative Home Secretaries.
Priti Patel said much the same thing two years ago, as did Amber Rudd before her.
Rudd found herself on the receiving end when an Oxford academic took exception to a speech she made to the Conservative Party Conference on migrant workers — and complained to the police.
They duly investigated and said that while it did not meet the threshold for criminal prosecution they would record the incident anyway.
Yet in spite of the Government promising to take action and telling the police to get on with tackling genuine crime, police seem to be ever more intent on wasting their time investigating Twitter spats and other minor incidents.
In 2021 a Bedfordshire was investigated for whistling the theme tune to Bob The Builder — something which his neighbour claimed was somehow racist.
Last August, a Hampshire man was arrested after someone complained that he had retweeted a meme rearranging four LGBT Pride flags to make a swastika.
I am very tired of people, Gary Lineker included, trying to compare everyone they don’t like to Nazis.
But is it really a hate crime to make a point that you think a bunch of political activists are behaving unreasonably?
Many of the people who find themselves at the receiving end of non-crime hate incidents are children.
Last month, a 14-year-old boy at a school in Wakefield, West Yorks, was investigated by police after he was told by friends to bring a copy of the Koran into school after losing a video game.
He obliged, and the book became scuffed when he dropped it — something his accusers decided amounted to an act of hate.
Of course, genuine hate crimes are a very serious matter.
No one is trying to excuse the man who drove a van into a crowd outside a North London mosque in 2018, or the attempted bombing of Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Remembrance Sunday in 2021, or the 1999 bombing of a Soho pub frequented by gay men.
Genuine acts of hate deserve the most severe sentences.
But the concept of a non-crime hate incident is deeply disturbing.
As the name suggests, it is not a crime at all — it is simply an incident which someone has decided they find offensive.
There is no threshold below which such an incident is regarded as too trivial.
A non-crime hate incident is simply defined as anything the “victim” finds objectionable.
As with the academic who took exception to Rudd’s speech (in spite of admitting he had not actually listened to it, only read reports of it), it could be any remark which somebody disagrees with politically.
Yet police officers are obliged by guide- lines to record such incidents — and they can show up years later if an individual has to undergo an enhanced records check.
Yes, if you want to apply for a job which involves, for example, working with children, you really could find your chances hindered because you made a rude remark in the playground years ago when you were a child yourself.
In one case a boy found himself with a record for calling another boy “shorty”.
The number of people who could find themselves in this position is extra-ordinary.
Over the past five years police in England have recorded 120,000 non-crime hate incidents.
The whole business has continued in spite of a Court of Appeal ruling in 2021 that Harry Miller, a former police officer from Humberside, had his right to free expression infringed when he was investigated for “transphobic” tweets.
What had he tweeted to upset his accusers?
He had written: “I was assigned mammal at birth but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me.”
As a result of the case, the College of Policing — which drew up the national guidelines on how police should deal with non-crime hate incidents — was supposed to rewrite them.
Yet still police are inflating trivial matters out of all proportion.
Even if they don’t leave people with a criminal record, non-crime hate incidents are being used to make out that Britain is a hotbed of racism and hate.
Look at the statistics in ignorance and all you see is this huge wave of “hate incidents” over the past decade.
Yet it is not a product of genuine social change, merely the inevitable result of police being ordered to record every public insult.
Meanwhile, mountains of actual crime goes unsolved.
Just try reporting a burglary or a case of online fraud and see if anything happens beyond you being issued with a crime number.
Suella Braverman is right, police are being distracted by non-crime “hate” incidents.
They should stop pandering to fashionable woke obsessions and get on with tackling real crime.
The only question is: When she says she is going to stop police recording these incidents, does she mean it any more than her predecessors did?
We live in hope.