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True but not the point

“Police waste too much time over silly spats”, writes Clare Foges in the Times. (Paywalled, but I will quote all the bits that matter.)

But perhaps the most time-sucking of new developments has been the resources spent on hate incidents and online crime. Last year it was reported that in 2015-16, 30 police forces dealt with 11,236 hate incidents which were too trivial to be classed as crimes; one every half hour. Among those lodging complaints were a man who claimed a tennis umpire had made racist line-calls against his daughter, a woman who was told that she looked like Peter Griffin from the cartoon Family Guy, and a person who felt a man had stood “intimidatingly” close because she was “a non-conforming gender-specific lesbian in a wheelchair”.

Instead of realising the folly of all this, the National Police Chiefs’ Council responded by restating that “those feeling vulnerable should report any incident of hate crime to the police”. The trouble is that hate crime is astonishingly subjective. The official definition is “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice”.

The College of Policing states that “for recording purposes, the perception of the victim, or any other person, is the defining factor in determining whether an incident is a hate incident . . . Evidence of the hostility is not required.” In other words, any crackpot or attention seeker who feels victimised, regardless of the “offence”, may go to the police.

Sucking up police time on “hate” incidents in the offline world is bad enough, but in the past couple of years the police have been expected to protect us online too. In 2017 the Crown Prosecution Service announced that online hate crimes should be treated as seriously as those committed face to face. This has led us to ludicrous cases like that of Kate Scottow, who last December was arrested in front of her children by three police officers and detained for seven hours. Her crime? Calling a transgender woman on Twitter a man.

In 2017 this paper reported that police were arresting nine people a day in the fight against web trolls, a rise of nearly 50 per cent in just three years. The arrests were made under the Communications Act 2003, which makes it illegal to intentionally “cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another” with online posts. Annoyance? Inconvenience? Given the cesspit of spite that social media has become, we can only imagine how many are being arrested today.

Commissioner Dick was criticised when she said that focusing on violent crime must be the over-riding priority for police, over misogynistic abuse, over fraud, even over catching those who view indecent material online. “We can’t go on increasing the scale of the mission, unless we are given more resources, or the public is prepared for us to do some things not very well.” No one wants to give a free ride to certain offenders. But in a world of finite resources there cannot be a bobby on every corner as well as bobbies to guard the good name of the Duchess of Sussex and bobbies to police every spat on social media. There aren’t enough resources for this and never will be.

I do not disagree with any of the arguments Ms Foges makes. But I think she is missing something rather important…

Update: I have decided to stop being coy and just say what I think the problem with Clare Foges’ piece is. She talks as if the main thing wrong with the police “increasing the scale of the mission” (as Commissioner Cressida Dick puts it) to encompass the policing of spats on social media is that it wastes police time. So it does, but the scandal of the arrest of Kate Scottow for calling a transgender woman a man on Twitter did not lie in the time wasted by the three officers who bravely took on that mission. It lay in the violation of Kate Scottow’s liberty.

29 comments to True but not the point

  • Paul Marks

    The ideas of the Frankfurt School of Marxism are the basis of police “diversity” and “anti discrimination” training under the “Social Justice” concept (Social Justice and Justice being opposites – eternally at war). Even though they are not told that what they are being taught is Marxism.

    Jeremy Corbyn will not have to create a political police force – because it already exists, with the full consent and cooperation of some ignorant “Conservatives” who half “internalised” the Marxist “power relationships” stuff at school and university.

    It is all rather depressing, and it started along time ago. After all the Act of 1965 was a direct violation of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association – declaring “discrimination” (CHOICE) and the expression of certain opinions to be “crimes” – and it was passed without much protest, even though (unlike the United States) there had never been (the utterly vile) “Jim Crow” laws here – so no legal history of persecution for the new Act to “to make amends for” (which was the justification of, the actually rather more limited, 1964 American Act – which “only” attacked Freedom of Association NOT Freedom of Speech).

    There was not much principled opposition to the 1965 Act because the British establishment was already hopelessly Benthamite – it no longer believed in the principles of liberty, just in trying to make most people happy. And if most people (or even a minority of people) were going to be made happy by the destruction of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association – so be it.

    Of course the 1965 Act was very MODERATE compared to the legislation (and, even more importantly, the customs and practice) we have now – but every step since 1965 has been entirely logical, once one accepts that Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Association do not matter – indeed are “crimes”.

    Centuries ago David Hume (who denied human personhood itself) looked forward (with, essentially, polite indifference) to the “Euthanasia of the Constitution” – to the death of the principles of liberty. Well it has occurred – the principles of the Old Whigs (such as Sir John Holt, Chief Justice of 1689-1710) are utterly defeated – and such things as the Bill of Rights (British or American) would now be dismissed as anti Social Justice reactionary positions – not just by Mr Corbyn, but by Mrs May as well. And THEY ARE anti Social Justice reactionary positions (that is why they are good).

    Ask Mrs May what she thinks of (for example) the Right to Keep and Bear Arms – an entirely normal position among Conservatives and Unionists till the First World War (the British National Rifle Association and Constitutional Club network was much larger than the American version of these things at that time – and the Ulster Covenant of 1912 is an Old Whig style document).

    Hopefully the Prime Minister will have no ideas what you are talking about and just dismiss you as a lunatic – but if the lady grasps your meaning (about this liberty – or any of the fundamental liberties) she will have you arrested. Sir Francis Bacon (“The New Atlantis” and lions UNDER the throne), Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and Jeremy Bentham have won – liberty has lost. Ralph Cudworth. Thomas Reid and James McCosh are unknown names today – and Edmund Burke is totally misunderstood (cited in support of things he would have FOUGHT TO THE DEATH against).

    We live in the age of the unlimited state – and no Mr Frederick Engels, it will NOT “wither away” and be replaced by some sort of ideal society which is supposed to appear from the magic spells of the “material laws of history”.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    I think that this is one of the perils of democracy- Governments keep growing because politicians get elected by promising to fix some problem, and then have a mandate to expand the State. People should vote for the person who promises to reduce government, and cut back on the power of bureaucrats, but shiny baubles win them over.
    I think that the next thing after representative democracy could be Meridocracy- a time-share system of government. If someone signs up to be a citizen, then the price would be 11 months of community service of some kind (Fire brigades, road patrols, militia weekends, etc.), followed by 1 month when the citizen becomes part of the actual government of the local county, directly voting on the laws of the county, which would be more like a Swiss canton. Let’s not delegate responsibility to others, but use our share of government for ourselves.

  • Paul Marks

    Nicholas (Unlicensed Joke) Gray – there was no majority demand for the Act of 1`1965 or the later Acts, or for the many other assaults on liberty – this is all very much TOP DOWWN stuff. An “educated” elite enforcing their ideas to promote “happiness” (very Rousseau “The General Will” – rather than the opinions of ordinary people, the “will of all”).

    Remember that the late Maurice Cowling (of Cambridge) was correct – the Westminister Review crowd (the Philosophical Radicals – including J.S. Mill himself) did NOT want power to go to ordinary people – after all ordinary people might be “bigoted” or “xenophobic”, the point of giving everyone the vote was NOT for ordinary people to rule – but for the “educated” to rule IN THE NAME OF ordinary people – a “guided democracy”. Rather than the old system where the landowners ruled in-the-name-of the people.

    What the “liberal” elite (actually Philosophical Radicals who deny the existence of human personhood, the soul – free will, itself) really think of democracy, has been exposed by their reaction to the vote for British independence of 2016.

    In the early 19th century there were people who really did think ordinary people should have actual influence over policy – but who now remembers such men as Major Cartwright?

  • Rob

    If you wanted to create a society where anyone could be denounced by anyone else for no reason and subsequently arrested, this is one way you would do it. The legal structure is now in place for the Totalitarian State – only the resources are missing.

  • Penseivat

    As a Police officer, I was always told, again and again, that an arrest should be the last thing on an officer’s mind, if the matter can be dealt with in another way, unless the offence is so serious that it is the only option. To take away someone’s liberty should not be taken lightly.
    In the case of Kate Scottow, a brief explanation of the complaint, a quick statement under caution, and being reported for the possibility of a summons, should have been the way forward. An hour at the most, actioned by one Police officer.
    Unfortunately, as mentioned above, the inclusion of the Frankfurt School of Thought into Police policies has removed much common sense in Police procedures.

  • NickM

    “a non-conforming gender-specific lesbian in a wheelchair”

    What exactly does that mean?

  • Paul Marks

    The rights of private landholding against the state were the defining feature of Western Civilisation – from at least 877 (when Charles the Bald of France admitted, as an “old right”, that he had no legal power to take land from one family and give it to another) – and what is it that the Westminister Review crowd (specifically James and John Stuart Mill) attack?

    Yes, you guessed it – private rights in land (the Radicals took up the false ideas of David Ricardo – which led to Henry George, and were not finally refuted till their refutation by Frank Fetter). James Mill was never able to do in England what his influence did in India (essentially make the state the owner of the land – with private owners only tolerated if they did as they were told and bled gold), but he would have liked to. And far from being an enemy of the income tax – John Stuart Mill wanted to add an inheritance tax to the income tax (something that was done 20 years after his death).

    These Radicals were not only different from the Old Whigs, they were the opposite of the Old Whigs – no wonder they admired Thomas Hobbes (as under all their talk of “liberty” they actually stood for STATE POWER) and no wonder they praised the “light” of David Hume (rather than Whig Scottish thinkers such as Thomas Reid) for, as James McCosh pointed out in the 19th century – J.S. Mill (like David Hume before him) denies human personhood itself.

    At least, UNLIKE Jeremy Bentham and James Mill, John Stuart Mill always appeared tortured (utterly tortured) by the family philosophical position he took up – which does not seem to have suited his sentiments very well. It was indeed ironic that J.S. Mill, a man very interested indeed by the human personality, remained committed to a philosophical position that human persons do-not-exit. A position straight out of Hobbes, Hume and Bentham.

  • Paul Marks


    No a police officer should NOT have gone to see Kate Scottow to tell her about the “complaint” and take a “statement under caution” or warn about a “summons”.

    The expression of opinion by Kate Scottow (whatever one thinks of her opinions) should be NONE OF THE BUSINESS OF THE LAW.

    I would like to think that J.S. Mill would be on the side of liberty in this case (as it is about expressing opinions – rather than private property rights in land or industry), but there is that absurd bit of “On Liberty” where Mr Mill says people should not be allowed to “parade” their disapproval of others.

    I must confess I had no idea what Mr Mill (a writer whose works seem worse every time I read them) meant by that when I first read it – but later it was explained to me that Mr Mill had a relationship with a Mrs Taylor and did not like people turning their backs (or other such) when he and Mrs Taylor were seen together.

    To which the correct reply is GROW UP Mr Mill – if people want to “parade their disapproval” of your conduct, you will just have to live with it.

    As for some man having his penis cut off and then being upset because a radical feminist insists he is still a man (which genetically HE IS) – that is no business of the police or the law. At least not in a free country.

    Would I personally seek out (“on line”) such unfortunates and tell them that they are men? NO I would NOT – as I have other interests. But if Kate Scottow can not think of anything more productive to do – that is her business. If a man who has had his sexual organs cut off does not like being called a man by Kate Scottow on “Twitter” he can simply “block” her.

    As a man myself I suspect that Kate Scottow (a radical feminist) would not like me very much – but that is a matter of total indifference to me (and should be to the law).

  • Paul Marks (March 8, 2019 at 10:44 am), while I agree of course that no-one should have even accused or visited Kate Scottow, I do not think Penseivat (March 8, 2019 at 9:19 am) was actually demanding that in any deep sense. Penseivat was giving us useful information about how the evil of an evil law is being separately enhanced by the evil of its process. Not arresting a suspected murderer precipitantly is prudent respect for due procedure, but not arresting a suspected hate-speaker is proof of “structural racism” or similar in the police – and there may be consequences for an unwisely-mild officer. Laws that only the ‘enlightened’ think are malum in se have to enforce their malum prohibitum fiercely.

  • Paul Marks

    F.A. Hayek, in the “Constitution of Liberty”, maintains that one can reject the libertarian (free will) philosophy of the Old Whigs whilst still, consistently, keeping their pro liberty politics – in this the late Professor Hayek was quite mistaken.

    As Kant (and others) pointed out, the “compatiblism” of David Hume is a total botch – determinism is NOT compatible with moral responsibility (and the formation of J.S. Mill is no better than that of David Hume – it is just more long winded and pedantic). One can not be morally responsible for an action of one’s action was predetermined – if one could not have chosen to do otherwise than one did, indeed the very concept of “one” (the I – the human person) rests upon this (not “just” the criminal law). For example it makes no sense to tell Kate Scottow “do not do X” if her doing X is predetermined.

    The only way one can legitimately express dissent over the term “free will” is in the way Ralph Cudworth did (way back in the 17th century) – i.e. to express dislike of the “chopping up” of the human mind into different things called “reason” and “will”. The mind (the person – the soul) perhaps can not be “chopped up” in this way.

    However, of course, Ralph Cudworth was NOT opposing the basic principle that humans (human BEINGS – object-subject distinction) can choose to do other than we do, it was the WORDS “free will” he disliked as they imply a division between “will” and “reason” rather than a unity of the human essence (the soul).

    I repeat the point that I often need to make – the existence of the human person (the soul) does NOT prove it is immortal (it may die with the body – a possibility discussed by Alexander of Aphrodisias almost two thousand years ago).

  • Paul Marks

    I have already mentioned the best known philosopher in America in the 19th century – James McCosh (almost forgotten today – much to the harm of our age) and mention should also be mentioned of his Scottish Common Sense school colleague Noah Porter (Yale – McCosh was at what is now Princeton) who wrote about philosophy and psychology (psychology being a word invented by Ralph Cudworth, a wordsmith, back in the 17th century) from the foundation of human personhood – rather than assuming away human personhood as William James (Harvard) does in his work on Psychology in 1890. Bizarrely William James did NOT deny human personhood (he SUPPORTED it), but claimed that one had to make the assumption of determinism (an assumption he admitted was UNTRUE) in order to write a book about psychology – that previous writers (such as Cudworth, Porter and McCosh) had NOT made this untrue assumption, and yet had written about the subject, seems to have passed William James by.

    In Britain the main philosophers of the 19th century were NOT James and John Stuart Mill (so celebrated by modern academics) – they were such men as Richard Whately (Oxford) and William Whewell (another wordsmith – he invented such words as “scientist”) at Cambridge. A nation that honours |Jeremy Bentham and J.S. Mill and has totally forgotten Richard Whately, William Whewell has cut itself off from its traditions and cultural heritage – and do NOT “just” mean in religion.

    Even in the 1930s such men as Joad, Harold Prichard and Sir William David Ross were leading philosophers at Oxford – although the “Logical Positivists” (with their denial of the existence of the human person) were very much on the march in the 1930s. The Logical Positivists openly looked back to David Hume – but did not cover themselves in the sickly sweet politeness that Mr Hume (unlike Mr Hobbes) always covered his positions (at least his implied positions) with.

    I sometimes wonder what sort of positions such men as J.R.R. Tolkien or “Jack” C.S. Lewis would get in modern Oxford (or Cambridge) – security guards or toilet cleaners most likely.

    Whereas during World War II the “reactionary” thoughts of C.S. Lewis (on such things as moral responsibility) were broadcast on the BBC.

  • NickM

    I thought the prime porpoise of Commissar Dick was the shooting dead of completely innocent and unarmed Brazilian electricians (particularly those on their way to install burglar alarms).

  • staghounds

    Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names should never make the police show up.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    Should Titania McGrath be expressing some outrage about this?
    Or organising some woke training for the College of Policing?

    Selflessly, I have written the definitive guide to social justice. Those who fail to buy a copy will be guilty of hate crime.

    Universities exist to protect young people from microaggressions, not to introduce them to new “ideas”.

    Any police force that recruits officers on the basis of aptitude and qualifications is basically the gestapo.

  • John McCartan

    A delightfully entertaining and informative wander , if not off topic , at least into the rough at the side of the fairway from Paul. And the bonus of a hint at an oddly presbyterian reading of Kant.

  • Clovis Sangrail

    @Natalie and Paul
    Thank you, as always, for the incredibly stimulating and informative.
    At the end of a very long week I am feeling less chippy than usual so have no “but…” to add to that.

  • Rob

    “a non-conforming gender-specific lesbian in a wheelchair”

    What exactly does that mean?

    It can mean whatever the complainant wants it to mean. The law is deliberately completely subjective.

  • Fraser Orr

    My question would be — exactly what value does Twitter offer to people’s lives? I am not opposed to social media generally, in fact I think it has some value, but twitter? WTF? Why do people even use it? Especially so since it seems to be a cesspool of liberal bullying.

    I have said it before, with all that is going on with the deeply liberal biases in some of these social media platforms why isn’t there a burgeoning alternative centered around the idea of free speech? I mean there is lots of money to be made, and there is an outraged constituency forming a massive audience, and the switching cost is close to zero. So if you worry about this crap why not just swear off twitter, google and facebook?

    I want to swear off Amazon, but it is so darned useful, and switching really is harder there. But lets be clear — they are banning books FFS! Remember the malestrom that arose when Sarah Palin was accused of banning books in a teeny library in a teeny city in Alaska? Banning books is like the signature move of totalitarianism.

    But google, facebook and twitter? That you can switch from pretty easily. Perhaps we that rant about their ridiculous behaviors should rather put our money where our mouth is and take our business elsewhere. (Do yo watch CNN? I sure as hell don’t.)

  • Mr Ed

    The police have a duty under equality legislation to promote ‘equality’, so they go after people expressing certain views; they don’t have a duty to stop murders, so they don’t.

    It’s as simple as that.

  • Rob

    why isn’t there a burgeoning alternative centered around the idea of free speech

    The carriers, e.g. Google, would ban you; the payment services would ban you. Think of it like every High Street in the country, in the world, controlled by a single company who either own them all or control them all. Whether you do business there depends entirely on their opinion of you. You have no statutory rights whatsoever to trade there, they can evict you instantly for any reason at all, even for something as completely vague and meaningless as ‘promoting hate’.

    Yet for some reason Google, Twitter et al aren’t considered by the US Government to be monopolies, let alone dangerous ones.

  • Penseivat

    Paul Marks, perhaps I should have written ‘could’ instead of ‘should’.
    A complaint made to the Police has to be investigated in some way. The procedure is that the person receiving the complaint (usually a switchboard operator with no real knowledge of the law) creates an incident log which is passed to a contact centre or unit which decides what action will he taken. In these woke or SJW days, any complaint which is considered a ‘hate crime’ will be dealt with by a Police presence.
    My comments were based on my experiences of being an old style copper, where a brief statement is passed to a more senior officer and then, possibly, to the CPS who would make a final decision. Somewhere along the line, someone with a modicum of common sense would decide it is not in the public interest to continue. Time wasting, I know, but there you are. Ms Scottow would be advised of this, as would the complainant who would also he told that they could take out a private prosecution. When told this would be at their own expense, rather than the taxpayer’s, they would then probably realise they were not really all that offended after all.
    Sadly, thanks to the Frankfurt School of Thought, and a shedload of senior officers with Sociology degrees, the instructions finding their way down to the brainwashed street officers, are often as seen in this case.
    Just remember that these days, THE POLICE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS, and you have no idea how much it saddens me to say that.

  • Fraser Orr

    The carriers, e.g. Google, would ban you; the payment services would ban you.

    Google is neither a carrier nor the high street, it is just a service on a shared network.
    One can simply build one’s own “high street” and the big advantage of the internet is that it it trivially easy for users to get to your high street as easily as the one they are going to now. The switching cost is extremely low.

    Until such times as the DNS starts shadow banning people at the root Google cannot prevent you from setting up an alternative, nor really hinder in your business. The most they can do is prevent you from using their services to advertise your service — and there are plenty of alternative ways to get the word out. (Especially so since, as I say, there is a huge constituency of people who are furious at the actions of these companies and looking for a viable alternative.)

    It is WAY easier to do this on the internet than it is IRL.

    There was a time before Google you know, when Yahoo and Altvista ruled the roost. How many people even have heard of Altavista?

  • Julie near Chicago

    1. Does anybody know what’s happening with Dave Rubin’s and Jordan Peterson’s attempt to start an alternative to Patreon?

    2. Seen just now on gab:


    Millennials lead the mass Facebook exodus: More than 15 MILLION users in the US have quit the site in the last two years over privacy concerns
    In 2017, 67 per cent of the total US population over the age of 12 used Facebook

    At the moment, gab doesn’t look as icky as it has been. At least not at a quick glance.

    3. Rob:

    “Yet for some reason Google, Twitter et al aren’t considered by the US Government to be monopolies, let alone dangerous ones.”

    First, all that business with Zuckerberg’s Congressional hearing last winter was supposed to be Congress’s attempt to figure out whether Facebook, Google, etc. should be considered monopolies and therefore held to common-carrier laws (accepting all traffic) or rather considered strictly-private entities, market share notwithstanding.”

    Personally, I think that granting a favored-monopoly status and requiring the companies to accept all traffic is a “cure” worse than the disease.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)


    I feel for you. Under various different names the hard left has been practising these tactics of infiltration for many decades. As David Burge a.k.a. “Iowahawk” puts it:

    1. Identify a respected institution.
    2. kill it.
    3. gut it.
    4. wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Natalie: Good quote.

  • Paul Marks

    Would Karl Popper have a university post in modern Britain? Outside of the University of Buckingham I doubt it.

    Ditto my late friend Antony Flew.

    Even the Spectator magazine (very much the tame right) now admits that the education system (even at school level) is a Marxist indoctrination system, and the Corporations are dominated by “Woke” ideas (i.e. the very ideas that are designed to DESTROY the “Capitalist Corporations” – by promoting “diversity” and “Social Justice” at the expense of ABILITY and GOOD WORK).

    Mr Ed – the “duty to promote equality” by the police (and local and central government), yes that is totalitarian.

    Penselivat – yes it all saddens me as well.

  • bloke in spain

    @Fraser Orr
    “My question would be — exactly what value does Twitter offer to people’s lives?”
    There are people wish to shout “Me! Me! Me!* in the belief there are people wish to hear them doing so. It provides a platform for such.

    *Politicians, journalists, media peeps, entertainers, self styled intellectuals, the mentally ill…I repeat myself. Oh & small children once passed notes in class whilst sniggering &those who scrawl on toilet doors.

  • bloke in spain

    In retrospect, I could have added those who comment on blog posts or indeed blog. But I didn’t.

  • The police are wasting time on petty BS because if they actually tackled real racism/crime (“South Asian” sexual grooming/rape) they’d upset the Liberal/Labour narrative that white people are evil…then there wouldn’t be no go areas all over the country. After all, the Labour Party spend a generation importing a new electorate. How did that go for yah?