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Stupid and offensive comments should not be a matter for the police

5 1 0
02.11.2018

IT’S refreshing to hear a senior police officer, Sara Thornton, suggest that there are some things that the police shouldn’t do. At the annual conference of the National Police Chiefs Council, which she chairs, she questioned whether forces should concentrate on recording instances of misogyny which are not themselves criminal, rather than solving burglaries and murders and getting muggers off the streets.

This, you may be surprised to learn, is controversial stuff. It flies in the face of the attitude, recently exemplified by forces such as South Yorkshire and the Greater Glasgow division of Police Scotland, that one function of policing is to issue stern warnings on Twitter to the effect that saying anything unpleasant, whether or not it is against the law, will result in a visit from the boys in blue. And furthermore that, if any general rudeness or horribleness isn’t against the law, then it bloody well ought to be.

Immediate criticism of Chief Constable Thornton took that approach. For example, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society, Sam Smethers, said that “abuse and harassment aimed at women, because they are women, should be taken seriously for what it is – a hate crime”.

The trouble is that it’s not, which is something Ms Smethers knows, because her organisation is campaigning for it to become one. As Chief Constable Thornton later told reporters: “I’m not saying that misogyny is not an issue. What I’m saying is, is recording it as a crime necessarily the best way to reduce that, to have a criminal justice........

© Herald Scotland