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West Yorkshire Police have some explaining to do

Why did the police arrest a drunk autistic girl?

You’d think it was the most routine assignment for any police officer: escorting a teenager home after she’d had one too many on a girls’ night out. So why did this mundane duty result in a squad of officers descending on her mother’s home and swarming on a deeply distressed 16-year-old, before hauling her into custody on suspicion of hate crime?   

There is much that we do not know about the events of 6/7 August. Such evidence as we have — primarily the video clip that’s been circulating on social media — does not show the alleged incident. West Yorkshire Police tweeted to warn the public not to rush to conclusions but revealed the girl had been arrested “on suspicion of a homophobic public order offence”.

This has not prevented the mother from giving an interview to Reduxx claiming that her daughter’s crime was to make an innocent remark about her WPC escort: “I think she’s a lesbian like nanna Julie.” The mother alleges the officer responded by telling the girl she would be arrested before calling for back-up. The clip begins after the squad’s arrival, with the girl — clearly in the middle of an autistic meltdown — hiding in a cupboard and beating herself with her fists. 

Throughout the ordeal, the mother begs the officers to take her daughter’s autism into account

Throughout the ordeal, the mother begs the officers to take her daughter’s autism into account, and pleads for them to explain why it is an arrestable offence to surmise someone’s sexuality. The video ends with the screaming 16-year-old being manhandled into custody where, according to her mother, she remained for 20 hours.  

This incident is the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation, and simultaneously of a complaint currently being assessed by West Yorkshire Professional Standards Directorate. The officers’ bodycam footage may reveal a good reason for the girl’s arrest. Yet if the mother’s story turns out to be true, or true in the essentials, then these officers’ actions constitute a grotesque abuse of police powers. 

West Yorkshire Police must now justify the officers’ actions in terms of lawful arrest and proportional force. Failure to do so would significantly undermine public trust, especially among people with autism and other disabilities. 

One thing we can say for certain is that West Yorks has form when it comes to authoritarian overreach. The force twice interviewed women’s rights campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen for tweeting about Mermaids CEO Susie Green, going so far as to refer the case to the CPS. A couple of years later, the same force arrested her for holding a lockdown-compliant rally after deciding that women’s rights do not qualify as a political cause. 

What’s more, the Leeds incident fits perfectly into a pattern that Fair Cop has been highlighting for years: the politicisation of UK police forces by TQ+ advocates like Stonewall, police officers’ abrogation of their duty to impartiality, and their completely disproportionate response to suspected hate incidents. Or at least, to some incidents.  

Because some “hate” is more equal than others. What’s so striking about these cases is that they almost always concern comments about gender or sexuality. If the police have ever arrested a rainbow flag-toting youngster for being rude about autistic people, I must have missed it. (There are exceptions. Remember, for example, WYP’s shameful cowardice in the Batley teacher case.) 

This special treatment speaks to the sustained influence of TQ+ ideology over the police. West Yorks no longer pays a subscription to Stonewall, having forked out £15,500 for membership of the Diversity Champions scheme between 2011-18. But the charity’s influence lingers long, most publicly in the presence of WYP’s LGBTQ+ Twitter account

Most forces in England and Wales have these affiliated accounts. Staffed by activist officers, promoting political and partisan opinions, and often copying Stonewall’s messaging word-for-word, they operate in direct contravention of the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics on impartiality. They also resist any attempt to engage in dialogue: Fair Cop is blocked by West Yorks’ LGBT account (along with most other forces’).

When West Yorks publishes the results of its investigation, it will reveal one of two possible scenarios. First, that the teenager indeed committed a homophobic public order offence — for example, by screaming “Get your hands off me you fucking lesbian!” 

But this raises further uncomfortable questions for the police. You can’t commit a public order offence within a private dwelling, yet WYP has publicly stated that she had been arrested for a public order offence. But if she said something worthy of arrest in the city centre, why did the police bring her home? 

Alternatively, if the mother’s account is true, it will highlight the homophobia at the heart of TQ+ activism: that it promotes the idea that “lesbian” is a dirty word, and that it’s hateful to wonder whether someone might be gay. Moreover, it will show that though police forces are no longer paying protection money to Stonewall, Stonewall Law lives on.

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