The UK’s College of Policing in England and Wales has been inventing a new kind of “wrongdoing” that falls under the category known as non-crime hate incidents (NCHIs).
People accused of these are not breaking any laws, but once this label has been slapped on them, it could adversely affect their lives for years to come.
When British author George Orwell wrote “1984” in the wake of the Second World War he had authoritarian regimes in mind, introducing phrases like “thought control” into the vernacular.
Today his country seems to be leading the way in the West in tuning his artistic expression into a real life dystopia at whose center is a serious threat to free speech and even people’s livelihoods, as engaging “thought crimes” can now cause them to lose their jobs.
It is along these lines that the Free Speech Union criticized the College of Policing in its new report, titled, “An Orwellian Society.” The College is responsible for giving guidance to police officers.
An NCHI, although not a crime, can still be recorded by the police if a person feeling victimized “perceives” that the event they are reporting was motivated “wholly or partially by hostility.”
Not only does this kind of report come up in background checks when people apply for certain categories of jobs, but could also serve to foster what the free speech group refers to as an unprecedented culture of denunciation among UK citizens.
The report comes as one case of the police recording an NCHI is being challenged in court on appeal. The case was brought by former police officer Harry Miller, who received a home visit by his former colleagues in early January because of his tweets that were recorded as NCHIs.
In the first instance judgment the High Court ruled in favor of Miller and his right to free expression, but rejected his claim against the guidelines issued by the College.
Justice Julian Knowles remarked at the time, “In this country we have never had a Cheka, a Gestapo or a Stasi. We have never lived in an Orwellian society.”
Free speech supporters are now getting behind Miller’s appeal.