Hampshire Police in Britain have scrapped a scheme which obliged people either to go on what free speech campaigners have described as a “reeducation course” for hate crimes—sexist, racist, homophobic, or transphobic material posted on social media—or face prosecution.
The training courses are run by an organisation called Restorative Solutions paid for by Hampshire Constabulary’s Police and Crime Commissioner’s (PCC’s) budget and therefore by the taxpayer.
Donna Jones, PCC for Hampshire announced her decision to stop the scheme on Saturday.
“I inherited a restorative justice contract when I was elected into office last year and the restorative hate-crime awareness course was part of that,” Jones told The Telegraph at the time of the announcement.
“I have decided that this hate-crime awareness course will no longer be offered in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight by way of a community resolution option. The change needs to be planned properly but will take place in the coming weeks.”
Hampshire Police were heavily criticised by free speech groups, after a video of them placing army veteran—now named as 51-year-old Darren Brady—under arrest and in handcuffs, went viral.
Brady had refused to go on the course, or admit to any crime, after he shared a tweet of the rainbow Pride flag made into a swastika.
Jones told The Epoch Times in a statement by email at the time that she was “concerned about both the proportionality and necessity of the police’s response to this incident.”
Actor, founder of the Reclaim party, and free speech campaigner Laurence Fox who filmed the video, hailed the decision by Hampshire police as a personal victory. Also arrested and then released was Harry Miller of the Bad Law Project, an ex-police officer turned free speech campaigner.
“See what can be achieved when we stand together,” Fox wrote on Twitter.
Laurence Fox said bad laws are inescapably tied to social justice because laws based on subjective offences are invalid and unenforceable by definition.
“The more resources funnelled into policing them, the more obvious their incompatibility with basic civil liberty becomes,” he said.
“What is so encouraging and wonderful is two people [Fox and Miller] stood up to the police and we have just changed the entire precedent of the British legal system in a week,” Laurence Fox said in an interview with Sky News Australia on Aug. 7.
Miller said the police officers at the scene were not embarrassed at all but “old school coopers” supported him.
“I have been inundated which messages from senior high-ranking officers who are cheering us on because they do not recognise the police force they are seeing,” he said.
“I will continue to confront and remind police forces that we have never had the Stasi, the Cheka, or the Gestapo in this country, and under our watch we never will.”
The Bad Law Project is a free speech organisation that was initially contacted by Brady.
“Take note Police forces of Britain, if you continue this ridiculous Orwellian course” we are coming and there’s no stopping us,” they said in a statement on Twitter.
The Epoch Times has approached Restorative Solutions for comment.