Photo by Tolga Akmen

Post-hate policing

Deprived of non-crime incidents, how will the hate crime industry recover?

Artillery Row

For two years and one month, I was unlawfully recorded and retained on a police database by Wiltshire police as “a barrister posting hate”. If you want to see the true depths of my hate you can view the tweets complained about on the Fair Cop website.

The victim of my hate boasted on social media what he/she/xe had done

There you will find 12 pages of tweets deemed representative of my hatemongering and worthy of recording for a minimum of six years, to inform police operational decisions about my hatred towards transgender and Jewish people. My favourite will always remain a photo of my dog as a puppy with the caption “my dog will call me a Nazi for cheese”. The “victim” of my hate had conducted a search of my tweets using the word Nazi and my dog ended up recorded as an example of hatred towards transgender people. No, I don’t understand it either.

I found out about this in July 2020, after the victim of my hate helpfully boasted on social media what he/she/xe had done, and I made a request to see all the personal data Wiltshire had recorded. Over the next six months, two further recordings were made and disclosed, even more absurd than the first.

I had to go through a year long process of complaints to Professional Standards before I could join Wiltshire to my judicial review application against the College of Policing, against the Hate Crimes Guidance which I asserted was irrational, unreasonable and in breach of ECHR articles 8 and 10 as well as data protection law. The wait included a report from the Hate Crime Lead himself Paul Giannasi, who reassured Wiltshire that they had acted perfectly properly but perhaps it might be wise to put a marker next to my name for future complaints and record that I objected. Wiltshire declined.

We had to wait until December 2021 for Harry Miller to be proved right: the Hate Crimes guidance in its current form, allowing “perception based” recording of “hate” without any investigation or attempt at applying an objective standard, was unlawful. It permitted a breach of Article 10 ECHR. It must be revised.

On 17 January 2022 the House of Lords debated the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Baroness Williams introduced the Government’s amendment, which would confer power on the Secretary of State to issue a code of practice about the processing by the police of personal data relating to a hate incident, other than for the purposes of a criminal investigation. The code should examine whether and how such data should be recorded, when the “data subject” should be told they have been recorded, and how long that data should be kept. No time scales for the arrival of this Code were given.

The politicians, journalists and “human rights lawyers” will be judged by their silence

Nor does the College of Police appear to be aware of it. They wrote to my solicitors proposing a further adjournment to my judicial review until the end of May to allow them to review and “potentially revise” the guidance. But there is no “potentially” about it. The Court of Appeal have clearly ruled that this guidance is unlawful.

Happily Wiltshire confirmed on 31 January that they would no longer contest my application and they would delete the recording made on December 2019. The next day they promised an “expedited audit” and to apply the principles of the Court of Appeal judgment in Miller to any other recordings. Given their level of absurdity, I expect therefore all recordings relating to me to be deleted.

This is on one analysis, excellent news. On another analysis, it is a terrifying indictment of a system that was wedded to something so patently absurd and unlawful that it simply closed its ears and mind to anyone pointing out all the many ways the system failed. And no one other than one determined and brave individual, Harry Miller, sought to challenge it. Where were the politicians, the journalists the “human rights lawyers”? They will be judged by their silence.

I will have my good character restored, but there are over 120,000 “hate incidents non crimes” now recorded. If my and Harry’s experiences are anything to go by, the majority of them will be petty and ridiculous. You will not be told if you are recorded. There will be no investigation. The recording will simply sit there and wait for its potential future disclosure to an employer. If you are worried you might be in the 120K club, make a right of access request to your local force now. Let Fair Cop know if you have any problems.

All hate incident non crimes must now either be audited or deleted. Every force should follow Wiltshire’s lead. What the College of Policing have authorised is unlawful, now declared to be so; urgent revision of this guidance must be a priority.

I suspect some people who have invested a great deal of time and their professional reputations in upholding the “hate crime” industry will struggle to come to terms with this. It must be difficult to be on the “right side of history” one day and responsible for a breach of fundamental human rights the next. But they have had long enough to accept the importance and necessity of freedom of speech for a healthy democracy. If they continue to deny it, there are thousands of angry and fed up people willing to donate to crowdfunders to drive that message home. And we are not merely angry. We are persistent.

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