A 14-year-old schoolgirl is threatening a judicial review of College of Policing guidance on the recording of non-crime hate incidents involving children in schools.
Police investigating hate incidents which involve pupils in schools have been told to keep a record even when they do not meet the threshold for criminal charges.
Non-crime hate incidents are perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility towards race, religion, disability, sexual preference or gender identity – and can show up on criminal checks later in life.
With forces in England and Wales recording 120,000 hate incidents by the public in the past five years, one schoolgirl is now launching legal action against police.
The female pupil, known only as Miss B, believes that sex is distinct from gender identity, and is 'frightened' about speaking openly about transgender issues. She also has auditory processing disorder and dyslexia.
A 14-year-old schoolgirl is threatening a judicial review of College of Policing guidance on the recording of non-crime hate incidents involving children in schools (file photo)
A letter from her lawyers, Sinclair Law, to the College of Policing argues that the advice on recording non-crime hate incidents creates a 'chilling effect' on her ability to criticise transgender issues, the Times reports.
It states that the vague definition of hostility to include the perception of 'dislike' was 'alarmingly broad' and could lead to Miss B suffering consequences even if she had no intention of demonstrating hostility towards anyone.
Sinclair Law's letter says she is 'concerned about the possibility of having a police record potentially including details of conversations that she has had at school' and fears 'this record would impact on her future career prospects'.
It argues this would prevent Miss B from 'expressing her views freely within school and from contributing to important class debates on controversial issues'.
Police investigating hate incidents which involve pupils in school have been told to keep a record even when they do not meet the threshold for criminal charges (file photo)
Guidance from the College says police should make a record of a non-crime hate incident 'if the victim or any other person perceives that the incident was motivated wholly or partially by hostility, even if it is referred to a partner to respond'.
Motivations could include 'ill-will, spite, contempt, prejudice, unfriendliness, antagonism, resentment and dislike'.
And a non-crime hate incident may be recorded where victims are reluctant to reveal that they think they are being targeted because of their 'protected characteristics' – of if they are 'not aware that they are a victim'.
The College said that its guidance aimed to help police 'in how to best preserve freedom of speech while protecting people from crime'.