Tag Archives: UK

Non-Crime Hate Incidents Code

The Home Office is a ministerial department of the United Kingdom’s government. The Home Office takes its primary duty as being the safety and security of the country and it’s citizens.

On March 13th, 2023, the Home Office published a draft Non-Crime Hate Incidents Code of Practice on the Recording and Retention of Personal Data, as provided for in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

This statutory draft code of practice, once in effect, will provide guidance to the police in England and Wales relating to non-crime hate incident (NCHI) recording. It sets out the common-sense and proportionate approach that should be adopted by the police.

The publication of this Code of Practice appears to be in direct response to recent events and controversy surrounding an incident when the purchased copy of a Koran, owned by a 14-year-old autistic child, happened to become smudged and scuffed. According to media reports, the accidental dropping of the Koran was investigated by police as a hate crime and the child was threatened with death.

It is a strange world when an incident of clumsiness by a child leads to outrage of “adults” and investigation by police. However, it did. And a Code of Practice has been issued.

According to the Home Office, the new Code of Practice:

  • includes guidance relating to whether and how the personal data of an individual who is the subject of an NCHI report should be processed as part of an NCHI record
  • provides detailed information on the right to freedom of expression, and clear case studies to illustrate how this right should be taken into account in the context of NCHI recording
  • clarifies that debate, humour, satire and personally-held views which are lawfully expressed are not, by themselves, grounds for the recording of an NCHI
  • sets out that a non-crime hate incident should not be recorded if the report is deemed by the police to be trivial, irrational, malicious, or if there is no basis to conclude that it was motivated by intentional hostility

The code also introduces the additional threshold test, which clarifies that personal data should only be included in an NCHI record if the event presents a real risk:

  • of significant harm to individuals or groups with a particular characteristic or characteristics
  • that a future criminal offence may be committed against individuals or groups with a particular characteristic or characteristics

For the purposes of the code, a ‘particular characteristic’ means race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity, as defined in hate crime legislation. This test will enable the police to intervene where necessary to safeguard vulnerable individuals and communities.

The code is subject to the affirmative procedure and will enter into force 31 days after it is approved by Parliament.

Suella Braverman KC (i.e. the government representative in charge of these things) had apparently stated that the UK does not have blasphemy laws and everyone should respect freedom of speech and pluralism. She wrote that ‘The education sector and police have a duty to prioritise the physical safety of children over the hurt feelings of adults. Schools answer to pupils and parents. They do no have to answer to self-appointed community activists.’

Those comments appear to have preceded the release of the new Code of Practice.

It is difficult to be certain what the UK’s general population thinks about this situation. Humanists UK, however, has posted on their website that:

We welcome this draft code of practice. The state has strong interests both in protecting free speech and in preventing harassment, discrimination, and incitement to hatred against people on the basis of their innate characteristics. The code of practice carefully balances these competing needs, considering the motivations behind incidents, their seriousness, and whether debate, humour, or satire are relevant factors.

‘What happened in Kettlethorpe appears to simply have been schoolboy foolishness. As such it never warranted the involvement of the police. We’re pleased that the Government has listened by bringing some much-needed clarity to the table. The police are often put in a difficult position by vocal religious groups in their area demanding action – kowtowing to which only can sometimes only escalate tensions further.  We look forward to further action from the Government to make sure that what happened in Kettlethorpe never occurs in a school again.’

Whether “clarity” has been established by this release of a Code of Practice for the documentation of non-Criminal matters by police is something that bears some consideration. Indeed, one wonders how and why people who threaten a child with assault and murder are not the ones considered candidates for investigation of a hate crime. Uttering threats is, after all, not precisely an utterance of affection.

Citations, References And Other Reading

Featured Photo Courtesy of :

  1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/non-crime-hate-incidents-draft-code-of-practice
  2. https://inews.co.uk/opinion/blasphemy-law-system-punishes-2191532
  3. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11819099/Suella-Braverman-wades-row-pupils-suspended-slight-damage-copy-Quran.html
  4. https://schoolsweek.co.uk/home-office-u-turn-on-blasphemy-guidance/

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Humanism in Education: With Hope that a Broad Curriculum May Lead to Broad Minds

Under legal pressure from a humanist parent, a school without a religious character in Worcestershire has radically altered its planned Key Stage 4 curriculum for 2022/23, in order to make sure that its religious education is fully inclusive of humanism.

Humanists UK, which supported the parent, said the decision marks a ‘significant win’ in making sure that schools do not force a narrow curriculum on children, and says the Department for Education and other schools must now make sure that such a broad curriculum is also offered everywhere else. In a timely coincidence an amendment to the Schools Bill, to replace RE with ‘religion and worldviews’ education in schools without a religious character, is due to be debated during Report Stage of the Bill on the afternoon of 12 July. The amendment is being proposed by crossbench peer Baroness Meacher.

Humanist parent James Hammond launched the case after learning that his child was being mandated to study an RE GCSE with a syllabus that was not inclusive of non-religious worldviews. No additional teaching was to be provided to make up for this exclusivity. All other schools in the academy trust apart from the one in question appeared to provide inclusive RE. Furthermore, since the school did not provide alternative GCSE options for those withdrawing from RE, if Mr Hammond withdrew his child, then they would have missed out on one GCSE qualification compared with their peers.

The academy has agreed to meet the parent’s request by providing, in addition to the GCSE course, two other units of RE, one for Year 10 and one for Year 11, focusing on non-religious worldviews and taught from a critical and objective perspective. Each unit will run for 6-7 weeks, and will meet the requirement to accord equal respect for non-religious worldviews in RE, as established in 2015 by the Fox case.

Parent James Hammond said: 

‘I’m delighted that the school has conceded in this case, and by so doing accepted that its RE provision for years 10 and 11 was unlawful, due to not being inclusive of non-religious worldviews.

‘It was wholly wrong that a school of no religious character was imposing such a narrowly-focused RE curriculum on 15 and 16 years olds: at that age they are developing advanced powers of reason and thought, so to deny them the ability to learn about non-religious beliefs and values was both discriminatory and short-sighted, given the increasingly non-religious demographics in Britain.’

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Robert Cann said: 

‘This is a significant win. The Fox case in 2015, which was supported by Humanists UK, clearly set a legal precedent – this school should never have forced Mr Hammond into taking this action in the first place, and we are glad that it eventually conceded the case.

‘But the fact that the school was able to behave in this way in the first place was due to a failure of leadership by the UK Government. We’d much rather not be going through the courts – the Government must enable the Schools Bill to bring this case law onto the statute book, by accepting today’s amendment on religion and worldviews education.’

Dan Rosenberg of Simpson Millar said: 

‘While my client is pleased that the case has been resolved in a way that enables his child to be taught RE in a more inclusive way, it should not have required the threat of legal action to resolve this. Mandating a GCSE course focused exclusively on religious worldviews for all pupils, at a school without a religious character, and as the entirety of their RE provision, was always going to run into legal trouble. The school has sensibly acknowledged the need for a significantly wider offering.

‘My client hopes that other schools will take a cooperative and responsible approach to providing non-discriminatory, inclusive education for all children, and no other parents will need to instruct solicitors to ensure that their  concerns and beliefs are taken seriously.’

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of :  
  2. https://humanists.uk/2022/07/12/school-will-provide-re-fully-inclusive-of-humanism-following-legal-threat/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.