A senior police chief has said that recording non-crime ‘hate incidents’ makes people lose faith in cops.
Stephen Watson of Greater Manchester Police said that officers needed to have confidence in telling the public when matters were not for the police.
He said that he was happy that the national standards body for policy had issued guidance emphasising that offence being taken should not lead to views being stigmatised.
He said that officers recording non-crime hate incidents ’caused people to question whether we know what we’re doing’.
Stephen Watson of Greater Manchester Police said that officers needed to have confidence in telling the public when matters were not for the police
Over 120,000 people in the UK have had actions recorded by police despite not breaching a criminal threshold – with the new guidance aiming to reduce this number and free up time.
Watson did emphasise that these recordings provided police with valuable data about trends of anti-social behaviour in communities.
‘In certain circumstances, there are actually first-class examples of where we’ve just completely got this wrong’, he told the Times.
Fiona Pilkington killed herself and her disabled daughter after over a decade of bullying in 2007 and Watson cited the example as where the recording of abuse would have been beneficial.
It comes after an army veteran was arrested by police for ‘causing anxiety’ after retweeting a picture of a swastika made out of Pride flags on social media.
Darren Brady, 51, slammed Hampshire Police for ‘impeding his right to free speech’ after he was placed into handcuffs on Friday at his home in Aldershot for sharing a meme.
Footage of the arrest was widely shared on social media and showed an officer who told Mr Brady he was being apprehended because his post had ’caused anxiety’ and been reported to authorities.
The image Mr Brady retweeted was of a swastika that had been digitally manipulated and was made out of four LGBT pride flags.
In the video, shot on a mobile phone, Mr Brady can be heard asking the three police officers: ‘Why am I in cuffs?’
One officer responds: ‘It didn’t have to come to this at all.’
Mr Brady replied: ‘Tell us why you escalated it to this level because I don’t understand.’
The officer adds: ‘Someone has been caused anxiety based on your social media post. That is why you have been arrested.’
Darren Brady, 51, (pictured) slammed Hampshire Police for ‘impeding his right to free speech’ after he was placed into handcuffs on Saturday at his home in Aldershot for sharing a meme
The image Mr Brady (pictured) retweeted was of a swastika that had been digitally manipulated and was made out of four LGBT pride flags
This is the moment army veteran Mr Brady (pictured)was arrested by Hampshire Police (pictured right) for ‘causing anxiety’ after retweeting a picture of a swastika made out of Pride flags
Footage of the arrest was widely shared on social media. Two separate videos showed the arrest of Mr Brady (left) and Harry Miller (right) who tried to prevent the former serviceman from being detained
Harry Miller, a former police officer, was also arrested after claiming he had tried to prevent the former serviceman from being detained.
He told MailOnline: ‘Hampshire Police showed a blatant disregard of the law. They approached Mr Brady and acted as summary judge, jury and executioner – but didn’t know what offence he’d actually committed. They said he was being arrested for causing anxiety, which is utterly ridiculous!
‘Mr Brady is a British Army Veteran and they were trying to extort him for money by making him pay around £80 for educational course so he could downgrade from a crime to a non-crime, which would still show up in a basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.
‘They thought they could get away with it. It was the world’s worst shakedown.’
Commenting on the video circulating on Twitter, Mr Miller wrote: ‘I’d been locked up by this time and missed this exchange. I’m speechless.’
Mr Miller, who in December won a Court of Appeal challenge over police guidance on ‘hate incidents’, said police visited the man 10 days earlier and has informed him that he could take the option of attending an £80 education course to avoid being arrested and possibly charged with a criminal offence.
The veteran said he needed time to mull it over, before the officers agreed to return at a future date.
Writing on Twitter on Sunday, Mr Brady told his followers: ‘It’s nice to be able to enjoy a Sunday morning in peace without being harassed by Hampshire Police trying to extort money from me, or have me ‘re-educated’ for sharing a meme on the Internet.’
In a statement, Hampshire Police said: ‘Officers felt it was necessary to arrest a man at the scene so they could interview him in relation to the alleged offence’
Donna Jones, Tory police and crime commissioner for Hampshire, slammed the county’s police force on Friday
Full statement from crime commissioner criticising her own police force
PCC Donna Jones: ‘I am aware of the video published on Twitter which shows the arrest of two men in Hampshire yesterday, one for malicious communications and one for obstruction of a police officer.
‘I have taken this issue up with the Constabulary today and have been advised officers made the arrests following a complaint from a member of the public of an alleged hate crime.
‘It follows a post on social media of Progress Pride flags in the shape of a Swastika.
‘I am concerned about both the proportionality and necessity of the police’s response to this incident. When incidents on social media receive not one but two visits from police officers, but burglaries and non-domestic break-ins don’t always get a police response, something is wrong.
‘As Police Commissioner, I am committed to ensuring Hampshire Constabulary serves the public as the majority of people would expect. It appears on this occasion this has not happened.
‘This incident has highlighted a really topical issue which Hampshire Constabulary and other police forces need to learn from. In order to support this I will be writing to the College of Policing to make them aware of this incident and encourage greater clarification on the guidance in order to ensure that police forces can respond more appropriately in the future.’
Mr Brady shared the meme, which was originally posted by Laurence Fox, a 44-year-old actor turned campaigner, on social media.
Mr Fox said the image reflected his belief that LGBT pride month is ‘enforced with a sense of hectoring authoritarianism’.
Police returned to the Mr Brady’s property on Thursday, but he had contacted Mr Miller and Mr Fox during the intervening period. The pair run the Bad Law project together, which claims to ‘challenge and depoliticise’ policing.
They agreed to attend the man’s home and were present when officers returned.
Mr Miller claims the former serviceman refused the offer of the educational course, leading to his arrest.
A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: ‘When officers arrived they were prevented from entering the address to discuss a potential resolution to the matter.
‘As a result, officers felt it was necessary to arrest a man at the scene so they could interview him in relation to the alleged offence.’
But Mr Miller subsequently place himself between the officers and the veteran, telling police: ‘You arrest him, you’ve got to come through me.’
He was also arrested on suspicion of obstructing police and has been released under investigation, describing the incident as ‘one of the proudest moments of my life’.
In a separate video, Mr Miller is led to a marked police van in handcuffs and before he is taken inside, a cop asks: ‘Have you got anything on you that could harm me or you?’
Mr Miller instantly replies: ‘Just my razor sharp wit and knowledge of the law.’
The footage, captured by Mr Fox, also shows the actor and veteran accuse police of acting like the Gestapo.
Mr Miller won a Court of Appeal challenge over police guidance on ‘hate incidents’ in December after claiming it unlawfully interferes with the right to freedom of expression.
The former officer who describes himself as ‘gender critical’, was approached by colleagues at Humberside Police over alleged transphobic tweets in January 2020.
The force recorded the complaint as a ‘non-crime hate incident’, defined by the College of Policing’s guidance as ‘any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice’.
Mr Miller, from Lincolnshire, challenged both Humberside Police’s actions and the College of Policing’s guidance at the High Court and a judge ruled the force’s actions were a ‘disproportionate interference’ with Mr Miller’s right to freedom of expression.
Mr Fox returned to Twitter on Thursday unrepentant after being suspended for posting the meme.
The tweet resulted in a sharp backlash, with Twitter temporarily freezing his account for violating their ‘hateful imagery’ policy, and a London Assembly member calling on the Met Police to investigate Mr Fox.
Caroline Russell, who is also a member of the Police and Crime Committee in the Greater London Authority, wrote on Twitter: ‘I hope the Met Police will look into Laurence Fox using pride flags to create nazi imagery and posting the images on a public platform.
‘This is a hate crime,’ Ms Russell wrote.
Laurence Fox, 44, an actor turned campaigner, was banned from Twitter over the weekend for posting a picture of a swastika made out of four LGBT pride flags
The tweet showed four LGBT pride flags positioned to make a swastika, captioned with the words, ‘Oh blessed and most holy month’
Mr Fox hit back at the London Assembly member’s intervention, however, accusing her of employing tactics reminiscent of those exercised by the Chinese Communist Party.
He wrote: ‘This is the UK, not China. Good to know you would like to see your political opponents prosecuted for ‘hate’, locked up and probably worse.
‘So thanks for proving my point for me,’ Mr Fox said.
In another tweet, Mr Fox shared a link to a satirical article entitled, ‘Scientists Discover Remote Island Untouched By Pride Month’.
Mr Fox captioned the tweet with the words: ‘Don’t cave in to the mob. Laugh instead.’
Access to Mr Fox’s Twitter account was restored this morning, with the polemicist and founder of The Reclaim Party telling his 310,500 followers that the LGBT pride flag has become a ‘holy flag’ that ‘cannot be criticised’.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism hit out at Mr Fox for his ‘insulting’ post.
Mr Fox’s tweet was strongly condemned by the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust on Twitter
And the Campaign Against Antisemitism criticised Mr Fox’s ‘insulting’ tweet
In a tweet, the campaign group wrote: ‘Displaying pride flags in the shape of a swastika is not the edgy statement that you think it is.
‘It is possible to express a view without the hate, and without insulting those murdered by the Nazis, which included Jews and LGBT people.’
The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust added: ‘We are appalled to see Laurence Fox’s vile tweet this morning with abhorrent use of the swastika.
‘Gay men experienced untold suffering under the Nazis, including murder, castration, and medical experimentation.’
Twitter said Mr Fox’s account was locked on Sunday evening for violating the site’s rules, specifically their ‘abusive profile information’ and ‘hateful imagery’ clauses
‘You cannot criticise the holy [LGBT pride] flags’ Mr Fox asserted in a tweet after access to his account was restored. His political colleague Martin Daubney, deputy leader of the Reclaim Party, backed him up by posting his own image of a swastika, this time created from Union Jack flags (pictured)
Mr Fox’s political colleague Martin Daubney, deputy leader of the Reclaim Party, rushed to back him up on the social media site, posting his own picture of a swastika – this time compiled from Union Jack flags.
‘So is this worthy of a ban?’, Mr Daubney, a former Brexit Party MEP, asked in a tweet of his red-white-and-blue swastika.
Seizing on Mr Daubney’s now-deleted tweet, Mr Fox wrote: ‘You can openly call [the Union Jack] a symbol of fascism and totalitarianism [on this site].
‘You cannot criticise the holy [LGBT pride] flags.’
Mr Fox told MailOnline: ‘While I’m pleased that my account has been reinstated, this temporary ban only served to reinforce the rank hypocrisy which Twitter is engaged in.
‘Over the Jubilee weekend, I lost count of the number of posts comparing the prominence of Union Jack flags around the country to Nazi Germany.
‘The prominence of the various pride flags and symbols throughout the month of June however not only goes unquestioned, but its acceptance and celebration are enforced with a sense of hectoring authoritarianism.
‘My post was clearly meant to highlight this double standard – and the temporary ban which resulted from it effectively proved my point.’