Police Call for Reporting ‘Non-Crime Hate Incidents’ Doused in British Irony

September 13, 2018 Updated: September 13, 2018

Britain’s hate speech laws are already controversial, with critics saying they are stifling free speech and pulling resources from investigating real crimes.

So when one police force went a step further and asked people to start reporting “non-crime hate incidents”—it didn’t go well.

South Yorkshire Police were plugging a new campaign “Hate Hurts” on Sept. 9, trying to recruit evidence of crimes against the country’s hate laws.

But they decided to take it to another level, tweeting, “In addition to reporting hate crime, please report non-crime hate incidents, which can include things like offensive or insulting comments, online, in person or in writing.”

The notion of non-crime hate incidents quickly gained traction, but not in the way they intended.

Social media users quickly piled in, swamping the social media thread with criticism, comparisons to Orwell’s 1984, and hefty doses of British irony.

Some reported their non-hate crimes.

“My ex girlfriend hates me,” wrote one Twitter use. “Like really hates me. Can you have her sent to jail please?”

Some offered their confessions.

“Can I turn myself in please, I have participated in non-crime hate incident, at approx 18:00 on or around the 11th September 2018 I prevented my wife buying pea’s at Asda as I hate them.”

South Yorkshire Police then explained their position in a further Tweet: “While non-crime hate incidents may not be criminal offences, they can feel that way to those affected & can sometimes escalate to crimes taking place.”

But the criticism continued to pile up, with scant support of the police position.

“There’s a fine-line between fighting true abuse and creating a dystopian society based on fear and informants,” wrote one Twitter user. “This is on the wrong side of that line. You’re a police department: investigate crimes, not hurt feelings.”

South Yorkshire suffered the highest rise in violent crime of any region in the country last year, up by 62 per cent.

“Robbery, burglary and muggings in South Yorkshire are up 39 per cent in the 18 months to March 2018, compared to the prior 18 months,” wrote one user. “Fantastic use of resources here though.”

Follow Simon on Twitter: @SPVeazey