Surely the police should be concentrating their diminishing man power on preventing and detecting crimes such as dishonesty and violence rather than ‘hate crimes’. The definition of a ‘hate incident’, which may not even be a crime, is so broad as to be self-defining: if the ‘victim’ or ‘anyone else’ considers something to be a ‘hate incident’, then it is deemed to be so. This leads to tit-for-tat reporting, with non-criminal offences being reported to the police and utilised for political purposes.
One MP even called the police on a constituent after she received an email from a constituent complaining about her anti-Brexit stance. I receive a substantial postbag of abuse from both the so-called alt-left (because I support Brexit) and the alt-right (because I refuse to hate Muslims), but I would not seek to waste police time by reporting such instances; I would do so only if there were a genuine threat of an actual crime being committed. Sadly, hate crime is now being weaponised as a political football – increased reporting of matters which fall below the criminal standard is being used to imply an increase in hatred on the streets, and to stifle freedom of speech.
By contrast, anyone who has been the victim of a burglary or assault is painfully aware of the impact on their lives and yet it is increasingly common for them to have to wait for a custodian of the law to turn up to investigate. I have no doubt at all that the vast majority of people would far rather police resources were devoted to what are undoubtedly more serious offences.
Plainly I am not saying that ‘hate crime’ should not be investigated; where an offence has actually been committed, it’s the police’s job to investigate. If someone’s been attacked because of their skin colour, religion, sexuality, or any other characteristic (protected or not), I want the law to be applied firmly and with deterrent effect to drive such behaviour off our streets. Mere words though, where there is no threat beyond that, should never be prioritised over more serious criminal offences. There is only so much money available and it must be spent where it is most needed.