Police forces are failing to train officers on the importance of free speech while teaching them obscure pronouns, according to a report from the Free Speech Union into the free speech crisis in British policing. The Times has the story.
The Free Speech Union (FSU) said there was a “free speech crisis” in British policing and that forces were not emphasising the importance of freedom of expression to officers.
Officers are undergoing tens of thousands of hours of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training in which they are told that gender is “culturally determined” and about the use of pronouns including “fae” and “faer”. At least one force still uses the “genderbread” diagram, which illustrates the notion that biological sex is irrelevant to an individual’s innate sense of gender.
The FSU’s freedom of information request revealed that forces were spending “little or no time” on the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Its report, entitled ‘The Urgent Need to Teach Police About Free Speech‘, argues that the balance needs to be redressed.
The organisation says that EDI training should not have a chilling effect on free speech, arguing there have been incidents of police intervention resulting in arrests which should never have been a criminal matter in the first place.
The report states: “While a belief in the concept of ‘gender identity’ as distinct from biological sex certainly reflects the views of some members of the public, it is very far from a consensus position. It is therefore concerning to find police EDI training endorsing one side in this ongoing debate.”
The report says that “partisan” EDI training has led to arrests of gender-critical speakers, citing the arrest by Gwent police of a women’s rights campaigner after they received complaints she had put up stickers perceived as “offensive” to transgender people.
Suella Braverman, the home secretary, recently said that freedom of speech was the “lodestar” of the UK’s democracy and that police must not be complicit in shutting it down. Her comments were prompted by the row over four pupils in Wakefield who were suspended for a week after a copy of the Quran was “slightly damaged”.
West Yorkshire police recorded the episode as a non-crime hate incident but acknowledged that no crime had been committed. New guidance on non-crime hate offences, published this month, requires police to prioritise freedom of expression ahead of people taking offence.
According to the FSU, 25 of the 32 forces in England and Wales that responded to it (78%) were providing no or inadequate training on Article 10.
In one example, Essex police dedicated an estimated 38,750 hours of police time on EDI training – including a £193,000 contract with a private company that urged the public to “be more alpaca” because the animals were “naturally inclusive”.
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