The teenage girl challenging the police over its guidance on ‘hate incidents’ has spoken out on the need to protect freedom of speech.
Currently, College of Policing rules state that when someone alleges a hate crime has taken place, officers must keep a record even where no crime has occurred. Such incidents are based on the perception of the alleged victim or others, not on evidence.
Such ‘non-crime hate incidents’ can remain on children’s criminal records, and be viewed by potential future employers. The 14-year-old says this is wrong and earlier this month threatened a judicial review.
Guidance published by the College this year said that the motivations for a hate incident could include “ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike”.
The schoolgirl, known as Miss B, told The Mail on Sunday: “We can’t live in fear that everything we say at school may be recorded somewhere on our records, simply because someone else didn’t like what you said.”
She added: “Children in my class have said that we shouldn’t have freedom of speech because it can upset people. Just recently, a student said Of Mice And Men shouldn’t be a class text because some of the words in the book are racist.
“I said that it’s a book of its time and it’s important to look at the context. I felt immediately ganged up on. The teacher backed me up but it was scary.”
Miss B is concerned that her views on single-sex spaces could also land her in trouble, and says it is unfair that disagreements in class could damage her career prospects years down the line.
She said: “Is it out of order for a 14-year-old girl to question in a school setting if it’s appropriate for a male-bodied person to be present in her sports changing area, toilets and dorms without fear of police intervention?”
She concluded: “I hope the guidance is changed so that it’s clear that it should never apply in schools or to children and that police records should not be made, except where they are really needed to prevent crime.”