We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Officers aren't the “thought police”, says HMI Chief

Officers need to focus on physical offences and keeping the public safe rather than dealing with reports of misogyny and transphobia, the new HM Chief Inspector has said.

 Andy Cooke, who took over last month, said chief constables should avoid “politics with a small ‘p’” and remember the clear distinction between what is and is not a crime.

“We’re not the thought police, we follow legislation and we follow the law, simple as that,” he told The Times.

“Policing is busy enough dealing with the serious offences that are going on, busy enough trying to keep people safe.”

He said it is only at the point when thoughts are translated into actions that the police should intervene.

In his first major interview since taking over from Sir Tom Winsor, Mr Cooke sought to align the inspectorate with core issues that officers are likely to face.

The former Merseyside Chief's comments come amid reports that some forces are treating reports of issues such as misogyny and transphobia as hate crimes.

Judges have expressed concern that the recording of non-crime hate incidents – which can remain on police records – risks interfering with people’s freedom of expression.

Mr Cooke has said that the law was clear regarding the point at which the police should intervene; when such thoughts are translated into actions.

“I do think it’s important that the prioritisation that we give is to those most at risk, and that policing stays away from the politics with a small ‘p’, and the different thoughts that people have,” he said.

“Those thoughts, unless they become actions, aren’t an offence. The law is quite clear in relation to what is an offence and what isn’t an offence.

“Policing needs to ensure the public can have confidence that the police will take action against criminality, whatever level that is,” he said.

“Obviously the serious criminality needs to be addressed. But right through neighbourhood crimes, burglaries and car theft as well.”

Last December, College of Policing guidance was updated following a case brought by former officer Harry Miller against Humberside Police who had claimed the forces actions had violated his freedom of speech.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the force had acted disproportionately.

The new guidance advises: “For allegations of hate incidents police need to apply ‘common sense’ in establishing whether there is hostility towards a protected characteristic group. If, having applied common sense and taking account of the full context, no hostility is found, the incident should not be recorded.”

Leave a Comment
View Comments 11
In Other News
Sussex apologises in row over transgender sex offender’s status
Hampshire PCC calls for further clarification on non-crime hate incidents
Child safeguarding gets praise but HMI concerned over resources
Forces continue improvements despite COVID and job pressures
Neighbourhood policing "needs to have an edge" for it to succeed
Stop and search revised back to 2014 with wider limits
Hate crime guidance overhauled after former officer wins appeal
LGBT hate crimes up sharply since lockdown, figures show
Recording misogyny as a hate crime won't 'derail' processes, says lead
More News