Now the police are arresting 12-year-olds for hate speech

Pre-teens who send racist messages need a slap or a talking to – not a set of handcuffs.


Topics Free Speech UK

Just when you thought police censorship in this country couldn’t get any more unhinged – from arresting protesters for accusing a horse of being gay to investigating someone for retweeting a limerick – West Midlands police have brought us to a new low.

Yesterday they announced that they had arrested a 12-year-old boy over a ‘series of racist messages sent to a footballer’. When contacted by spiked for more information about the arrest, West Midlands police said only that:

‘The 12-year-old boy arrested in connection with racist social-media messages sent to a footballer has been released under investigation while our enquiries continue. Racism has no place in society and we’re attempting to contact the footballer to obtain a statement.’

We wait to see what more information comes out. But no one should be comfortable with this. A child caught sending racist messages deserves a talking to, a lengthy grounding, and perhaps a slap. But locking up pre-teens over social-media messages is insane.

For all the talk of hate-speech laws protecting the most vulnerable, all too often it is idiotic, young and (in some cases) vulnerable young people who get caught up in this authoritarianism.

Locking up kids has nothing to do with fighting racism. This policing of hate speech is not only an affront to free speech, it is also increasingly an affront to common sense. All the more reason to scrap our illiberal hate-speech laws for good.

Picture by: Getty.

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Highland Fleet Lute

13th July 2020 at 11:19 pm

Is that the same police ‘service’ that ran away from a bunch of teenage black girls in Brixton the other week?

And the natural downstream result of appointing a lesbian police chief that hates ‘toxic’ heterosexual blokes is?????

Ness Immersion

13th July 2020 at 10:18 pm

Is this the same police force that lacked the courage to arrest those grooming or raping young girls in council care.

Gareth Roberts

13th July 2020 at 10:13 pm

Mark Steyn has been saying for years that “In Britain, everything is policed except crime”

Stephen J

14th July 2020 at 7:58 am

I have never heard that, but it is reminiscent of the idea that there must be diversity in everything except thought.

This nonsense needs to stop.

Jeremiah Johndon

13th July 2020 at 6:38 pm

The same people who habitually bitch at the police for actually doing their jobs are overjoyed at this “master criminal” getting locked away.

Craig T

13th July 2020 at 6:27 pm

A lot could be said about this police intervention. Arrest is the default position of the police, when social worker intervention would appear a more sensible approach. The 12 year old child i would argue is not able to understand the actions they have undertaken here, arrest sheet is terrible outcome for this child.

Some bigger questions

1) why does twitter allow 12 year olds accounts on their platform with verification?
2) why does social media companies allow anonymous user accounts with no linkage to real-world identities
3) should we ban social media for under 18 year olds to protect them from themselves (data never goes away) this i say because i feel the comments and online activity shouldn’t hanging over their heads in adult life
4) Parental control – should be limit children online? Limit access via technology, computers, smart phones, tablets, gaming consoles, should we as a society demand that online social media is a adult activity ONLY. I grew up in a world without it, as did many of us.


13th July 2020 at 5:58 pm

At this point, I am with the woke. De-fund the police, they are complete waste of money. Now they are just a bunch of self-opinionated uncivil non-servants. 25,000 more; no thanks Boris!

Jack Sprat

13th July 2020 at 5:00 pm

How things change in police hate speech priorities. I am not sure if it arose from the Danish cartoons or Salmond Rushdie but the response of police to Islamic fundamentalists holding a banner “ slay those who insult Islam” was not to arrest them for inciting murder but to provide a police escort to protect the banner displayers and threatening to arrest the public who shouted their anger at the murder incisors. As far as the nauseating brat goes it would not be surprising if police arrest parents as well for assumed supremacy attitudes and social services take the brat into care for suitable indoctrination with requirement to attend 10 BLM demos in penance.

Andy Tuke

13th July 2020 at 4:59 pm

I was amazed to see that the footballer in question tweeted the posts he’d had targetted to him, and then the police twitter account responded, asking if he know who the perpetrator was. He then posted the boys name and school back on twitter for all the world to see.
Do we now contact the police via their social media feed in a public forum?

George Whale

13th July 2020 at 4:47 pm

WM Police’s crime-fighting strategy seems quite selective:

“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary… found that only 78 per cent of violent crime and 89 per cent of sexual offences reported to West Midlands Police were recorded. In some cases, officers were found to have dismissed victims by ‘simply not believing them’.”

christopher barnard

13th July 2020 at 4:44 pm

We often hear liberals saying that our age of criminal responsibility is too low.

It’d take a brave one to say that about this case.

Instant cancellation would probably follow.

jamie murray

13th July 2020 at 4:29 pm

For the attention of anyone who hasn’t been paying attention for the last thirty years- the police are not on your side, they gave up real policing a long time ago and they seek to “understand” criminals rather than protect the really vulnerable and intimidated from them. Anybody who has lived in the less salubrious parts of town or on an estate, or who has worked on the front line of society where the underclass dwell, as i have done will know that. That isn’t a daily mail style rant, that’s real life experience.
The only people who have an idealised idea of the police as a force for the protection of society against evil and wrongdoers are sheltered middle class types who’s jobs, homes in salubrious areas of town and well behaved social circle means almost never being in contact with certain parts of the “real world” where some very nasty characters dwell. Try getting the cozzers to do anything about the anti-social neighbour and her drug dealing low life friends and see how your local friendly “force” [if only they were forceful against the right types] “deal” with it. You’ll soon be given a wake up call.
This is why the working class are passionate about severe punishments for evil doers and the wealthy establishment/politicians etc aren’t, only one side suffers from the evil and cruel, guess which side?
Most people couldn’t give a s**t if someone sensitive somewhere gets called a name, most people want the anti-social scum that plagues many of our streets smashed up and locked away. Guess wher the cops expand their energy!? They are NOT on your side!

Jack Sprat

13th July 2020 at 5:12 pm

Actually BLM demands to defund the police isn’t as daft as it sounds .Round here its years since we saw a police not in a car and the police station is long closed. Response to crime is just to give a crime number over the phone for insurance claim . Actually not quite true a year ago I saw a dodgy looking character dressed in what looked like black combat gear lurking suspiciously at a street corner glaring at passers by so was about to phone police to report a potential terrorist on the loose when someone next to me said he’s a cop ! ….. new police uniform replacing that of Dixon of dock green & designed for punch ups with protestors and to cultivate a thug police image.

Linda Payne

13th July 2020 at 5:36 pm

Quite right where we live we are surrounded by these types, extended families of pikeys who can only communicate by shouting at the tops of their voices along with their screaming brats but that’s when your lucky, get on the wrong side of them and you will know it, we’ve had our front door smashed in by someone the police knew all about and did nothing about

jamie murray

13th July 2020 at 7:38 pm

I know exactly the type, i have suffered from living near them and working with them as a homeless hostel manager [many “homeless” are hard boiled and nasty characters deliberately living on the margins, of course many were genuine and deserving of sympathy/help] and you have my sympathies. If only the members of the establishment were forced to have a taste of being intimidated and harassed in their own homes for a period of one year with further time added on if they didn’t get together to solve the crime/anti-social people problems many millions suffer! You’d see such a huge reduction in crime you’d think you were dreaming, but it wont happen because they live lives where these things are theory, rather than reality.
A major consolation for me is that as a Christian i believe God will one day administer true justice and punishment, although for now it’s still all to real and down to earth. Hope things improve for you!.

Walter Mitty

13th July 2020 at 4:21 pm

Arresting a 12 year old boy for calling someone names on social media is insane. Not sure the fight for racial equality is best served by arresting a 12 year old boys for name calling surely there must be more worthwhile areas to concentrate the efforts, for example knife crime.

Neil John

13th July 2020 at 3:20 pm

I wonder if the real target is the parents who have allowed the 12 year old to have such thoughts, perhaps inspired by them? Then there’s the failure to indoctrinate sufficiently that the school will have to answer for…

That said I wouldn’t be surprised if the 12 year old has suffered racial discrimination and attacks at school, I note there’s no racial descriptor for the child, perhaps this is intersectionality in extreamis involving a non-white child?

ubik ubik

13th July 2020 at 3:36 pm

The only victim here is the boy, at the hands of thugs and a multi-millionaire who snitched to the cops about some mean things he said to him.

Jim Lawrie

13th July 2020 at 4:22 pm

No doubt a white child regressing to his recessive racist genealogy after 4 months without scholastic correction. Good thing it has been nipped now. Another few months and he would have gone berserk with all that inherent racism bursting out.

ubik ubik

13th July 2020 at 3:09 pm

These thugs masquerading as cops ripped a 12-year old boy from his parents for saying mean things to a multi-millionaire, tossed him in jail, and then boasted about it to the entire fucking planet.
What has happened to the country of my birth.
God Bless our First Amendment

Peter McKenna

13th July 2020 at 2:13 pm

“A talking to, a lengthy grounding, and perhaps a slap”, may or may not have been more effective than an arrest.

But it’s insane to say arrest is an “insane” response to racist abuse by a 12 year old. Racial harassment is a criminal offence, and the age of criminality is 10 in England.

He will not, of course, be named and shamed.

steve moxon

13th July 2020 at 3:03 pm

Not so. It’s the combination … may intersection (ha!) of truly insane law — the notion that merely supposedly derogatory words, and specifically, arbitrarily re ‘race’, should be in some way deemed criminal (and on the basis of it’s-anything-anyone-says-it-is into the bad bargain) — and the extreme youthfulness of the individual the authorities have chosen to target. It’s the 12-year-old kid who’s the victimised person here, not the footballer.

George Whale

13th July 2020 at 3:27 pm

Seriously, you think professional footballers – grown men, many of them millionaires – need police protection from mouthy kids? What a spiteful, politically correct, authoritarian little BLM supporter you are.

Peter McKenna

13th July 2020 at 4:41 pm

Your issue seems to be with the Equality Act 2010 and its provisions on race discrimination rather than with me or BLM. And/or with the age of criminal responsibility: the Guardian also wants it raised (

One of the messages was a threat to come to his house dressed as a ghost, illustrated with a KKK photo and a bug-eyed black minstrel on a “Coon Flakes” cereal box.

George Whale

13th July 2020 at 5:10 pm

Nasty, yes, but with many violent crimes going unsolved each year, it’s legitimate to challenge police priorities.

Jim Lawrie

13th July 2020 at 4:42 pm

They have contacted the footballer to give him the opportunity to be traumatised and are allowing him enough time to reach an advanced state of victimhood. Perhaps he will go on to sue the 12 year old. Maybe trouser his pocket money for a few years.

Jonathan Palmer

13th July 2020 at 1:56 pm

I wish burglary, public disorder, etc had no place in our society as well as racism

jamie murray

13th July 2020 at 4:42 pm

Couldn’t agree more, see my post. I get so angry when i think of the amount of decent, law abiding, tax paying citizens out there who’s lives are made a misery by the non tax paying, non productive ,nasty low lifes out there who’s daily lives are one long roster of anti-social behaviour and loutishness and can act with impunity and laugh at the misery they cause, and plod think that more than 2% of the country give a toss that someone somewhere is offended by mean words!! If it wasn’t so tragic for the many people plagued by the above it would be laughable, but it’s very far from amusing, it’s sickening, and we PAY for this!
Insult to injury is as you say the sanctimonious “racism wont be tolerated” etc while turning a blind eye to real crime. Plenty of decent front line coppers, but all chief constables, aided and abetted by supine and not fit for purpose politicians are contemptible.

Frank Smith

13th July 2020 at 1:52 pm

Best part: “‘…Racism has no place in society and we’re attempting to contact the footballer to obtain a statement.’'”

Yes, this is a lecture provided in the police statement of facts. So, it’s not just the arrest of an evil twelve-year-old, one gets a free lecture about what and how to think.

steve moxon

13th July 2020 at 3:09 pm

And the chasing of someone to be forced into the mould of ‘victim’.
The utterly insane law is that harassment discrimination is anything anyone says it is, wit ‘anyone’ including a third party.
I’ve a good mind to contact this bunch of ‘PC’ plod bods to complain that I find their harassment of this 12-year-old deeply upsetting, and that I consider the eliciting of such negative emotions constitute harassment towards myself, and as such they have to investigate and necessarily uphold my complaint against them.

George Whale

13th July 2020 at 3:34 pm

Yes, they appear to be making an example of the boy. The broad aim of such actions is to frighten the population into submissive, conforming quiescence.

Jonathan Marshall

13th July 2020 at 5:26 pm

Agreed. Any real conservative government would immediately repeal all so-called “hate speech” laws on Day One. This bunch of wimps never will.

George Whale

13th July 2020 at 7:03 pm

Indeed. I struggle to think of anything the ‘Conservatives’ actually conserve any more, be it family life, rule of law, national heritage, sexual morality, national borders, the Church, the countryside or (as you point out) freedom of speech.

jamie murray

13th July 2020 at 7:27 pm

The idea that this bunch of gutless, metrosexual liberals are conservative would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic that millions are crying out for all the things you mentioned to be governed and legislated by a government with genuinely conservative principals at it’s core.
Democracy’s overrated, lets to many soppy, clueless inadequates “rule”. Give me a strongman dictatorship of the type that would send real criminal scum to off shore islands any day than the “lets try and understand them” mentality that reigns today.
Many will disagree with that sentiment, but only because they’ve never lived on a council estate next door to the neighbours from hell!.

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