Leicestershire Police have removed a social media post that suggested calling a transgender person by their previous name was a crime after the British home secretary intervened.
To raise awareness for National Hate Crime Week, Leicestershire Police put out a post on Saturday on its Twitter account about a fictional transgender person called “Jane.”
“I get called by my previous male name on purpose, but that’s not who I am. It can be really hurtful especially when it’s just seen as a joke,” the post said.
The post urged the public to report similar hate crimes via a site called Stamp it Out.
Members of the public, including Fair Cop, an organisation that was set up by former policeman Harry Miller in response to what it calls the “Big Brother” overreach of various police forces, asked the force what “hate crime” had been committed by “deadnaming” someone, which means referring to someone’s previous name before they transitioned.
“What was the ‘hate crime’ supposedly committed against ‘Jane?’ There wasn’t one, was there?” wrote family law barrister and Fair Cop co-founder Sarah Phillimore.
Hate crimes are “any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by hostility or prejudice towards someone based on a personal characteristic,” though in England, there is no such thing legislatively as a “hate crime.”
“Hate” can attach to a preexisting crime and there are several pieces of relevant legislation under which people can be prosecuted for offences towards protected characteristics.
The exchange prompted Home Secretary Suella Braverman to intervene via Twitter on Sunday.
“This week I have seen confusion amongst police forces about what constitutes a ‘hate crime.’ The police need to enforce actual laws and fight actual crimes. Freedom of speech must be protected and a proportionate approach must be taken,” said Braverman.
“The public need to have confidence in their police forces. This sort of thing undermines it. Senior police officers who allow this to happen can expect to have to explain to me why they’re spending vital resources on politically correct campaigns,” she added.
The rainbow flag on a police officer during Pride in London on July 6, 2019. (Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images for Pride in London)
Leicestershire Police subsequently deleted the “Jane” post.
In a follow-up statement, temporary Chief Constable Rob Nixon said that hate crime law in England and Wales has “developed in various phases over the past two decades and the law recognises five protected characteristics; race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.”
According to the Equality Act, the law recognises nine protected characteristics, not five. Furthermore “gender reassignment” is a protected characteristic, not “transgender identity.”
Nixon focused mainly on complaints that Leicestershire Police used a stock image in its post, which the home secretary did not mention.
“The source of those images had been considered to be reliable and the words on the posts were provided by an experienced police staff member who has significant knowledge of the different types of hate crime people can be and have been subjected to,” said Nixon.
“Having examined the posts I believe we as a force should have made clear that the images were stock images and that the names given were fictitious for illustration purposes. For completeness, I am also having a scenario presented checked against current national hate crime recording policy,” he added.
Nixon encouraged the public to report hate crime.
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman told The Epoch Times by email: “We acknowledge the post issued should have provided further context and explanation around what a hate crime is and apologise for any offence or upset caused.
“For clarity, current authorised professional practice (APP) guidance states that a hate crime is defined as any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person’s actual or perceived difference,” she said.
“A non-crime hate incident is defined as any incident where a crime has not been committed but where it is perceived by the reporting person or any other person that the incident was motivated by hostility or prejudice. Our post should have made this clear,” she added.
Instead of saying law the recognises “five protected characteristics,” she clarified that the law “recognises five types of hate crime on the basis of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation and transgender identity as defined by the Crown Prosecution Service.”
This is the second time that Braverman has intervened in such a way.
On Sept. 28, Sussex Police apologised for telling people not to make “hateful comments” about a convicted paedophile’s gender identity after the home secretary told them to “focus on catching criminals not policing pronouns.”
New government figures showed that the number of hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales has risen by 26 percent this year. But critics say that the rise is down to the police’s hyper-focus on collating hate crimes.