Fair Cop calls for College of Policing to be held accountable for leading police further away from the law
4 November 2020 – New police hate crime guidance is in “defiance of the law” and strengthens the police’s ability to criminalise people for expressing an opinion, analysis by Fair Cop reveals.
Last year the College of Policing announced a consultation on its Hate Crime Operational Guidance (HCOG). The updated Guidance, published on 21st October, further expands the list of protected categories beyond what is recognised in existing legislation, and advises officers to make direct contact with the person reported – something that was explicitly criticised by a High Court judge in February’s judgement in Miller v Humberside and College of Policing.
Fair Cop has highlighted the following issues as particularly concerning:
“When we launched the Judicial Review in August last year we knew we’d spooked the College of Policing because they immediately announced a review of their Guidance,” said Harry Miller, co-founder and CEO of Fair Cop. “But although we’ve been tracking, reporting on, and challenging the police’s flouting of the law and their capture by special interest lobby groups like Stonewall, we never imagined that the updated Guidance would get the law so utterly wrong.
“Despite the High Court likening them to the Stasi, the Cheka and the Gestapo, the police have decided to further divorce themselves from the law of the land,” Miller continued. The latest College of Policing guidance instructs police forces to investigate so-called ‘non-crime hate incidents’ in precisely the way that the High Court warned them not to — including recommending workplace visits. The move to a police state beyond the control of the Courts should terrify everyone, not least the press who can be accused of hate by any group or grifter with a grievance.’
Sarah Phillimore, barrister and co-founder of Fair Cop, said, “The College’s new Guidance stands in defiance of Mr Justice Knowles repeated comments that ‘common sense’ should guide the police decision to record people as ‘hateful’. In their headlong pursuit of increasing the number of reported hate crimes (a goal they have proudly publicised) the police appear desperate to discover hate where none exists. The aims may be noble but the execution is woeful: the guidance continues to exert a chilling effect on public discourse, not least by claiming ‘unfriendliness’ as evidence of hatred. It’s time that the College of Policing, an unaccountable private company, was subjected to the same scrutiny as other bodies that shape our laws and our society.”
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