A man has been landed with a police record for ‘racial hatred’ for whistling the Bob The Builder theme tune at his neighbour.
Officers in Bedfordshire recorded the incident as a non-crime hate incident, which will remain on file for six years and could be disclosed to prospective employers.
Few other details about the ‘crime’ are known, but it is just one of the bizarre cases unearthed by an investigation into the controversial practice of recording ‘hate incidents’ even if no law has been broken.
Others include a swimming teacher in West Yorkshire given a police record after a child’s mother claimed her son had been allowed to bang his head against the side of the pool ‘due to his ethnicity’, and a gay man who alleged he had been ripped off by a drug dealer because of his sexuality.
In Norfolk, a Portuguese national said an unknown person had deliberately left a burger bun on their driveway ‘due to their ethnicity’.
Under the Hate Crime Operational Guidelines, adopted in 2014, forces are required to record any actions deemed to be motivated by an element of hate, even if there is no evidence to prove them.
In total, 10,840 non-crime hate incidents were logged last year, bringing the total in the past five years to 120,000 – but Freedom of Information requests sent to 43 police forces in England and Wales failed to identify a single crime that had been solved as a result.
Campaigners have called for the ‘Orwellian’ system to be scrapped, claiming a police record could jeopardise a person’s career even if they were not charged with a crime.