The thoughtpolice can go whistle

Whistling the Bob the Builder theme song can now get you a police record.


Topics Free Speech Politics UK

‘Bob and the gang have so much fun. Working together, they get the job done.’ The Bob the Builder theme song – ‘Can We Fix It?’ – is all about what humans can achieve when we work together. But Bedfordshire Police has a different interpretation. Its officers seem to believe the catchy tune should be taken as a warning that an appalling racist hate crime is about to be committed.

A man in Bedfordshire has been slapped with a police record for whistling the theme song at his neighbour. Few other details are known about this ‘non-crime hate incident’, other than the fact that the police considered the interaction to be racist.

So-called non-crime hate incidents have proliferated in recent years, with over 120,000 recorded in the past five years alone. Although they do not result in arrest, the ‘perpetrators’ of these non-crimes can end up with a police record. These incidents will show up on any enhanced DBS check. They are supposed to help the police deal with more serious hate crimes, but there is currently no evidence that a single crime has been solved as a result of police recording these incidents.

So what counts as a ‘non-crime hate incident’? Because there is no crime being committed, there is no threshold to determine whether an incident is serious enough to become a police matter. They are also based on the subjective notion of ‘hate’, which is decided according to the feelings of the ‘victim’ or any other person. This means that literally any interaction with another person, animal or inanimate object can now be recorded as a non-crime hate incident.

It’s not just whistling the Bob the Builder theme that can catch the attention of the cops. Other hate incidents recorded by police have included a drug dealer ripping off a gay man (allegedly for his sexuality), a dog pooing on someone’s lawn (apparently this was racially aggravated), and an elderly woman beeping her horn at a slow driver (also racist, allegedly). Even children’s playground insults have been investigated as non-crime hate incidents.

Under the guise of tackling bigotry, the police are surveilling perfectly legal behaviour and censoring speech. The recording of non-crime hate incidents has no place in a free society. The thoughtpolice can go whistle.

Picture by: BBC.

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Topics Free Speech Politics UK


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