West Midlands Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers have joined forces to launch a controversial new website which aims to increase the reporting of so-called ‘hate crimes’.
However, the site is likely to alarm many Christians who have become concerned at the way in which they have been unfairly targeted for such prosecutions in recent years.
The controversial website will allow people to report perceived ‘hate crimes’ online.
According to the website a hate crime is any crime which is “targeted at a person because of hostility or prejudice” towards their sexual orientation, transsexual identity, belief, race or disability.
It also states that you don’t have to “be a member of the group at which the hostility is targeted” to be a victim.
Chief Inspector Mike Slemensek of Warwickshire Police’s equality, diversity and human rights unit said: “It will help encourage local people to report hate crimes – which are those crimes perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.”
The website, called True Vision, is being supported by all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Last year a report by the Civitas think-tank revealed that Christians in Britain were being unfairly targeted for hate crime prosecutions.
The report, entitled A New Inquisition: Religious Persecution in Britain Today, also warned that existing hate crime legislation posed a danger to freedom of speech.
Jon Gower Davies, the report’s author, said: “Some police forces and the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] seem to be interpreting statutes in favour of ethnic and religious minorities and in a spirit hostile to members of the majority population, defined as ‘White’ or ‘Christian’.”
Many of the prosecutions have been for causing “religiously aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress” under the Public Order Act.
The report cited the example of Ben and Sharon Vogelenzang who were prosecuted for a hate crime, under Section 5 of the Public Order Act, last year after they engaged in a breakfast debate about Islam.
The couple, who were supported by The Christian Institute, were declared innocent last December but the ordeal led to the closure of their hotel.
By contrast the report also cites the example of a Muslim man who escaped prosecution for a hate crime despite defacing a war memorial with slogans such as “Islam will dominate the world – Osama is on his way”.