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Old Jan 15, 2013, 11:10 AM   #1
obeygiant
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British government ditches "insulting words" crime

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The crime of "insulting" someone through words or behaviour, which once led to the arrest of a student for asking a police officer whether his horse was gay, is to be dropped.

Home Secretary Theresa May confirmed to MPs that the government would not seek to overturn a Lords amendment scrapping the ban.

The director of public prosecutions has said it will not hinder his work.

But Labour warned that it could remove protections for minority groups.

Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act currently means that "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour" might be deemed a criminal offence.

It has been strongly criticised by free-speech campaigners, and in December the House of Lords voted by 150 to 54, a majority of 96, to remove the word insulting.


"On the other hand, the view expressed by many in the police is that Section 5 including the word insulting is a valuable tool in helping them keep the peace and maintain public order.

"Now there's always a careful balance to be struck between protecting our proud tradition of free speech and taking action against those who cause widespread offence with their actions."

She said the government had supported the retention of the word insulting to prevent people swearing at police officers, protesters burning poppies, or "similar scenarios".
bbc

Nice to see they finally pulled their head out their arse on this one.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 11:37 AM   #2
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:02 PM   #3
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They only withdrew it because of it's obvious ridiculousness unfortunately it's covered by the other two terms in the law.It's similar to the U.S. "a land of many laws randomly applied" i.e. if they want to arrest you they will,stretching the legislation to fit the situation.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:55 PM   #4
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I'm sure this change, along with cutting the starting salary for a police officer by 4000 down to 19K, will ensure only the best, most motivated individuals are recruited to the UK's police force. Sorry but I've seen too many police officers be abused by drunken louts who hide behind the fact the police can't kick the cr*p out of them like anybody else would. Maybe the 'insulting' terminology should be reserved when the target is a public servant like police, fire, ambulance, nurse or doctor.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:31 PM   #5
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Broadly I think this is a good thing, it sounded to me a bit of a murky area of the law.


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Originally Posted by Peterkro View Post
They only withdrew it because of it's obvious ridiculousness unfortunately it's covered by the other two terms in the law.It's similar to the U.S. "a land of many laws randomly applied" i.e. if they want to arrest you they will,stretching the legislation to fit the situation.
This is true in every country in the world, that if the police want to arrest you they will, and there is nothing that you will be able to do at that moment. It's only when you get into the Justice System, that the finer points of the law are held up for scrutiny.
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