Who’d have guessed it? A senior policeman talks nonsense about hate crime at a LBWF Scrutiny Committee meeting, and councillors remain silent

A previous post (see link below) expressed disquiet about the fact that both LBWF and the local Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) have been pursuing hate crime in the borough as a priority, even though the evidence shows it is a small-scale phenomenon that doesn’t much worry residents.

What follows is written in similar vein, and suggests that not only have LBWF and the police failed to properly monitor what they are doing about hate crime, but they also seem to be remarkably ill-informed about aspects of the law.

The story is as follows.

At a meeting of the LBWF Communities Scrutiny Committee (CSC) on 13 July 2021, the councillors were joined by Inspector Marcus Walton of the MPS in order to assess how the campaign against hate crime (‘No Space For Hate’) was progressing. 

According to the minutes, Inspector Walton stated, amongst other things, that:

(a) ‘the Police were revisiting all previous reports to see if hate crime had been a factor’; 


(b) ‘Police officers could issue conditional cautions in the case of hate crime, such as misogyny, and offenders could clear the condition by attending a relevant course’.

This was surprising, because ‘revisiting all previous reports’ appeared to be a big undertaking, demanding a significant input of resources; ‘misogyny’ was not classed as a hate crime in the current legal guidance; and the idea that the police had the power to send offenders on ‘a relevant course’, in order to ‘clear’ themselves, if true, seemed to beg important questions about how this kind of punishment worked in practice.

Accordingly, using the Freedom of Information Act, I asked the MPS to state: 

‘(a)…how many officers were involved in “revisiting all previous reports”, and how many times hate crime has been found to be “a factor”;

(b)…whether the MPS considers “misogyny” to be a hate crime, and if it does so, point to the statute that legitimises such a view; and

(c)…what “relevant” courses are used, who they are run by, and how often “the condition” has been taken up’.

After long (and unexplained) delays, I now have the MPS’s response. 

It discloses that, as of November 2022, one officer was involved full-time in reviewing ‘flagged hate crimes’ and searching for ‘non-flagged crimes which have a hate crime element and need to be flagged as such’, but the MPS had no information about the numbers involved; the MPS did not class misogyny as a hate crime; and nor did it ‘offer formal diversion schemes for hate crimes through conditional cautions’. 

In short, when pinned down about the statements that had been made by one of their senior officers to councillors, the MPS now admits that they were in one case not convincingly evidenced, and in the two others, factually wrong.

Why was this not recognised by the CSC meeting at the time? Inspector Walton’s reasons for speaking as he did are unclear, though presumably he wanted to confirm to those present that the police were fully supportive of LBWF’s hate crime campaigning.

However, councillors could and should have challenged him, as it was obvious then (as now) that his comments strained credibility. One rather uncharitable explanation is that the councillors were hobbled by their ignorance: they simply didn’t know enough about the basics of hate crime to ask the right questions. Alternatively, it is possible that they were just swept along in the moment. But for the Labour contigent at least, it’s more likely that their reticence stemmed most from a fear of, even slightly, rocking the boat about one of their party leadership’s headline policies. 

So much for ‘scrutiny’.

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