Police forces record thousands of hate incidents each year even though they accept they are not crimes Telegraph 05.01.20

The original article is here.

Police forces are recording thousands of hate incidents even though they accept that they are not crimes.

More than 87,000 ‘non-crime hate incidents’ have been recorded by 27 forces in England and Wales over the past five years, when the national policing body introduced its Hate Crime Operational Guidelines.

The guidelines state that an incident – perceived to be motivated by hostility towards religion, race or transgender identity – must be recorded “irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element” and can even show up on an individual’s DBS check, despite them not committing a crime.

The figures, obtained by the Daily Telegraph through Freedom of Information requests, come as the proportion of actual crimes being solved by stretched police forces across the country have fallen to the lowest level ever recorded.

From 2015 to 2019, the number of criminal offences for which someone was charged or summonsed fell from 15.5 per cent to 7.8 per cent, according to statistics from the Home Office. Violent crime is also on the rise, with the number of offences involving a knife increasing from 41,000 to just over 44,000 from June 2018 to 2019.

The forces with the highest number of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ recordings are the Metropolitan Police, Merseyside and Surrey Police, which have recorded 9,473, 8,644 and 8,256 incidents over the past five years respectively.

One force, Cheshire Constabulary, even admitted to recording hate incidents where there is no criminal evidence in the same system as those that are crimes.

Senior officers within both Merseyside and the Met have previously warned how their officers are stretched beyond capacity and have “a real difficulty” in answering all critical calls.

Cressida Dick, the Met Police commissioner and Britain’s most senior police officer, has previously warned that recording hate crimes divert officers from fighting the top priority of reducing violent crime.

“In my view, we should be focusing on the things that the public tell me they care about most,” Ms Dick said in November 2018. “My officers are very busy, they are very stretched. We have young people in London subject to gang violence, getting involved in drug dealing, stabbings, lots and lots of priorities.”

The FOI figures come after a judicial review was brought in the High Court against the National College of Policing for their hate crime guidelines by former police officer Harry Miller.

Mr Miller, a married father of four, was investigated by a ‘community cohesion officer’ from Humberside Police – which has recorded more than 6,000 incidents – following a complaint that he had written something transphobic on Twitter.

The presiding judge in Mr Miller’s case, Mr Justice Julian Knowles, expressed surprise at the College of Policing’s rule that there does not need to be any evidence of hate in order for the incident to be recorded.

“That doesn’t make sense to me. How can it be a hate incident if there is no evidence of the hate element?,” he asked barristers representing the police at a hearing in November.

In legal documents lodged before the High Court, lawyers representing the College argued that the guidelines are necessary because “police now take an active role in the resolution of conflict within and between communities.”

“The role of British police today goes beyond bringing offenders to justice when they commit crimes,” they added.

The decision on Mr Miller’s judicial review against the College of Policing is expected in January 2020.

John Apter, National Chair of the Police Federation, said: “This is a really difficult issue for policing. It is right that we must prioritise those crimes in action such as emergencies, violence and burglaries. “However for some people, these so-called low-level incidents, which are not considered to be crimes, can feel like bullying and harassment and can have a very negative impact on them.”