Andy Cooke, Her Majesty’s chief inspector who oversee the assessment of forces and make recommendations for improvement, said police should focus on tackling crime and not on politics
Police should focus on tackling crime and not on politics, said the new chief inspector of constabulary on Sunday.
Andy Cooke, Her Majesty’s chief inspector, said: ‘We’re not the thought police, we follow legislation and we follow the law, simple as that. Policing is busy enough dealing with the serious offences that are going on, busy enough trying to keep people safe.’
Cooke was appointed as HM Inspector of Constabulary and HM Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services in April 2021 – the role includes overseeing the assessment of forces and making recommendations for improvement.
He went on to say: ‘It’s important that the prioritisation that we give is to those most at risk, and that policing stays away from the politics with a small p, and the different thoughts that people have.
‘Those thoughts, unless they become actions, aren’t an offence. The law is quite clear in relation to what is an offence and what isn’t an offence.’
He spoke out amid controversy around some police forces treating issues such as misogyny and transphobia as hate crimes.
In the year ending March 2021, there were 124,091 hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales.
Cooke said: ‘We’re not the thought police, we follow legislation and we follow the law, simple as that. Policing is busy enough dealing with the serious offences that are going on, busy enough trying to keep people safe’
A former officer, Harry Miller, succeeded in a challenge to police guidance over ‘hate incidents’ at the Court of Appeal
Sir Tom Winsor has also warned against the influence of ‘thought crime’ on the police force, adding that chief constables must remember they ‘enforce not create’ the law
‘Hate incidents’ can remain on police records and could turn up on enhanced vetting checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
‘Policing needs to ensure the public can have confidence that the police will take action against criminality, whatever level that is,’ Cooke told the Times.
‘Obviously the serious criminality needs to be addressed. But right through [to] neighbourhood crimes, burglaries and car theft as well.’
Cooke’s predecessor, Sir Tom Winsor, previously warned against the influence of ‘thought crime’ on the police force, adding that chief constables must remember they ‘enforce not create’ the law
The news comes after the Home Office revealed that police are solving the lowest proportion of crimes ever, with only six per cent of all crimes resulted in a charge in the year to September 2021.
The figure is equivalent to only one in 17 offences being solved, with Cooke adding crime rates were now the worst in his 36-year career.
Many crimes such as burglaries, robberies and shoplifting, and sexual offences, were going unpunished, he added.
Modern policing has become more complex because of the sophistication of modern technology, often involving cybercrime or online scams.
What are ‘non-crime hate incidents’?
Non-crime hate incident reports were introduced in 2014 following recommendations by the independent Macpherson Inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
They are ‘any non-crime incident which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice’, according to the College of Policing’s guidance on hate crimes.
Reports of non-crime hate incidents can show up in criminal record checks for six years, yet there are no grounds to appeal against them.
This means non-crime hate incidents will still exist but the guidance around their use will be tightened.
He also encouraged officers to help route out corrupt colleagues,
In order to regain public trust, officers need to go back to basics such as house-to-house calls and CCTV evidence.
In December 2021, former police officer Henry Miller won a landmark Court of Appeal challenge against police guidance on ‘hate incidents’.
Mr Miller, who describes himself as ‘gender critical’, launched the legal bid after an anonymous complaint was made about dozens of allegedly ‘transphobic’ posts on his Twitter account concerning changes to gender recognition laws.
The 56-year-old was visited by police at work and threatened with prosecution if he did not stop discussing the issue, and was told that the matter had been recorded as a ‘non-crime hate incident’.
Judge Victoria Sharp ordered the College of Policing to come up with new ‘safeguards’ to make sure that any future recording of non-crime hate incidents does not disproportionately interfere with the legal right to speak their mind.
The case established that recording of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ by police forces in England is an unlawful interference with freedom of expression.
After the ruling, Priti Patel said the home secretary will try to enshrine in law a new code of practice that controls the way officers record such incidents.
Patel confirmed in March that Andrew Cooke was her preferred candidate to become the new Chief Inspector.
Mr Cooke was chief constable of Merseyside Police for five years, stepping down last year.
He sparked anger when he said even violent criminals are ‘not inherently bad people’ and that he would rather pump billions into cutting poverty than upholding the law.
But he also oversaw the jailing of dozens of multi-millionaire drug lords, gained a reputation for tough policing and for being a keen user of stop-and-search powers.
A list of non-crime hate incidents:
PRO-BREXIT PUNDIT’S INTERVIEW WITH DAVID STARKEY AT HEIGHT OF BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS
Darren Grimes was interviewed by police on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred after David Starkey (pictured) appeared on the Brexiteer commentator’s YouTube channel
A video chat between a pro-Brexit pundit and David Starkey in which the historian used the phrase ‘damn blacks’ is to be officially recorded as a ‘non-crime’ hate incident despite the investigation being dropped.
Darren Grimes was interviewed by police on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred after Dr Starkey appeared on the Brexiteer commentator’s Youtube channel.
But the Metropolitan Police dropped the case after a backlash from free speech campaigners and withdrew their invitation to interview Mr Grimes and Dr Starkey under caution.
They confirmed no further action was being taken and that no offence took place. However, the incident will still be recorded as a hate crime allegation, police said, and could show up on future checks.
The interview in question, which appeared on Mr Grimes’s Reasoned UK YouTube Channel on June 30 last year, came at a time when Black Lives Matter protests were occurring regularly around the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Dr Starkey had told Mr Grimes: ‘Slavery was not genocide otherwise there wouldn’t be so many damn blacks in Africa or in Britain, would there?’
RETIRED TEACHER’S LETTER TO MOTHER OF CHILD WITH DOWN’S SYNDROME DEFENDING PARENT’S RIGHT TO ABORT
Douglas Kedge penned a letter to a woman protesting about an episode of Emmerdale in which a couple decided to terminate a pregnancy after the baby was diagnosed with the condition
Douglas Kedge, 85, penned a letter to a woman protesting about an episode of Emmerdale in which a couple decided to terminate a pregnancy after the baby was diagnosed with the condition.
He wrote that although he understood some may regard having a child with Down’s as a ‘great privilege and joy’, there are other ‘perfectly decent people’ who may wish to avoid what could be an ‘appalling change in their lives’.
Mr Kedge sent the note to Rachel Mewes, who has a three-year-old child with Down’s syndrome, in response to a letter she sent to The Times last November.
Ms Mewes, a disability campaigner, then complained to police – and Thames Valley Police later called Mr Kedge to inform him that a record had been made of his involvement in a ‘non-crime hate incident’.
But former parish council chairman Mr Kedge told MailOnline that he fears he will now be remembered as a ‘victimiser’ despite living a ‘virtuous’ life and dedicating himself to public service.
He said: ‘I am absolutely appalled that I now have a police record. I’m 85 and I have lived a fairly virtuous life up until now. I worked as an English teacher since 1957.
‘I was chairman of the parish council and been the governor for two schools. But now at the age of 85 I find I have a police record. I am annoyed, very annoyed.
‘The police have branded me a ‘suspect’ of a hate incident for writing a letter defending a woman’s right to abort a baby with Down’s syndrome. They have described Mrs Mewes as the victim, which makes me the victimiser.’