Police should stop “wasting time” investigating tweets just because someone claims to be offended, a senior police chief has said. The Telegraph has more.
Stephen Watson, chief constable of Greater Manchester, admitted police had been overzealous in recording trivial online spats and legitimate debate as hate incidents at the expense of tackling mainstream crimes.
“I do think that the balance has got somewhere out of kilter,” said Mr Watson, who last week revealed how his “back to basics” approach to crime-fighting had turned his failing force into the most improved in Britain.
“We’ve become too assiduous at interpreting some of the rules to mean that if anybody at any time for whatever reason is offended, there somehow needs to be a police record.
“We’ve got ourselves involved in stuff which is just not a policing matter, we’ve wasted our time as a result and we’ve caused people to question whether, frankly, we know what we’re doing.”
He added: “In certain circumstances, there are actually first-class examples of where we’ve just completely got this wrong.”
One case involved a Bedfordshire man who ended up with a police file for whistling the theme tune to Bob the Builder at his neighbour, who perceived racial hatred.
Earlier this year Harry Miller, a retired policeman who was visited by his local force after tweeting about transgender rights, won a battle over free speech with the College of Policing. The Court of Appeal ruled the guidance breached Mr Miller’s human rights.