If you want a snapshot of how warped the police’s priorities are these days, look to the case of Kevin Mills. Mills, a 63-year-old electrician, has just had a ‘non-crime hate incident’ scrubbed from his record following a bizarre battle with Kent Police. It all stems from a testy exchange in 2019 between himself and a woman he was doing some work for.
Mills showed up to the woman's house in Maidstone in Kent to install a bathroom mirror. When he realised he’d need £50 more for materials, the two got into a row and she insisted on keeping some materials he’d already bought for the job. Mills walked out, saying something to the effect of ‘I'm not working for someone like you’. She then slammed the front door and allegedly threw a cup of hot tea at him.
Mills called the police to report an assault following the incident and was soon informed there had been no further action. Two years later, he found out that his set-to with the woman had been recorded as a non-crime hate incident against him, on account of the fact that the woman was an ethnic minority. Mills' ‘people like you’ comment had been interpreted and reported to police as racially motivated – a characterisation he completely rejects.
The recording of non-crime hate incidents is a deeply Orwellian police practice. In layman's terms, they allow anyone to report anyone else over anything – and it has to be recorded by police. According to College of Policing guidelines drawn up in 2014, NCHIs are any non-criminal action that is perceived to be motivated by hatred. They can be reported by the victim or by any other person, and they must be recorded ‘irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element’. They also show up on advanced DBS checks.
Last December, the Court of Appeal ruled that the practice as it then stood was an unlawful interference in freedom of speech. The case was brought by Harry Miller – a Humberside businessman who had an NCHI recorded against him for making jokes about trans ideology on Twitter. But it seems likely NCHIs will live on in a more discretionary form. And tens of thousands of people could still have one of these things on their record.
Mills has successfully had his NCHI deleted, following an intervention by the Free Speech Union. But there are many more who have had black marks made against their name for nothing more than a misunderstanding or a petty dispute. A Daily Mail investigation in 2018 found that everything from a dog pooing in a neighbour’s garden to a man telling library staff he was campaigning for Brexit had been recorded as non-crime hate incidents in recent years.
In light of the fact that knife crime, burglary and what we might call actual crime more broadly continue to blight communities, the constabulary’s woke turn appears all the more absurd. Mills' case sums it all up. Back in 2019, he was told there would be no further action on his assault case, only to find out later that his ‘non-crime’ had been dealt with swiftly and credulously.
What a mess. It’s high time we relieved officers of their thought-policing duties, so they can get back to fighting actual crime.