The UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman has announced new legislation that will require police forces to prioritise tackling serious crimes over policing social media.
The new rules are aimed at ensuring that officers are allowed to focus on catching dangerous criminals rather than getting embroiled in political debates.
Under the new legislation, a clear threshold must be met before “non-crime hate incidents” can be recorded. The police will only record these incidents when it is absolutely necessary and proportionate, and never simply because someone is offended.
The Home Secretary’s draft code of practice states that police should only record complaints when it is absolutely necessary rather than because someone is offended.
It follows concerns that officers have been processing trivial incidents on social media that then leads to people having information about them stored by the police.
The measures have been welcomed by Stephen Watson, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, who said: “This guidance is replete with sensible provisions to safeguard victims of hate crime and better distinguishes between that which should involve the police and that which, in a free country, should emphatically not. It gives effect to what the public actually expect the police to do.”
The measures are part of a wider plan to restore “common sense policing” drawn up by the Home Secretary. A plan to recruit an extra 20,000 extra police officers in England and Wales is expected to be met by the end of the month.
Police forces across England and Wales have agreed to send an officer to attend every domestic burglary and the government is working on an action plan to crack down on anti-social behaviour causing misery in communities.
James Daly, a Conservative MP and committee member of the Home Affairs select committee, said: “Officers should spend 100 per cent of their time on dealing with the crimes blighting our streets…It is completely unacceptable. The public has a right to expect the police to attend when they have been a victim of crime and that they will charge people if they have the evidence, but that doesn’t seem to be happening at the moment.”
The new legislation is expected to better protect people’s personal data and the fundamental right to freedom of expression. The measures come after concerns were raised that some offences had effectively been decriminalised as police forces failed to bring anyone to justice for low-level offences such as bicycle thefts, blackmail, arson, pickpocketing and burglary.