Police force host training day by group that say gender-critical views are hate speech

A police force allowed an external third-party group which claimed gender-critical views are ‘hate speech’ to carry out an “inappropriate” and “inaccurate” training day for members of the local community.

A police force allowed an external third-party group which claimed gender-critical views are ‘hate speech’ to carry out an “inappropriate” and “inaccurate” training day for members of the local community.

As reported by the Telegraph, Staffordshire Police permitted the organisation ‘Uniting Staffordshire Against Hate’ (USAH) to carry out the course in February.

Campaign group Fair Cop, which scrutinises police overreach, attended the event, and has accused trainers of having a lack of knowledge regarding ‘hate crime’ legislation.

Fair Cop’s Harry Miller said USAH has a political motivation, and that the level of association by the police with the course provider was “inappropriate”.

“USAH takes a political position on transgender matters. It champions the use of personal pronouns, and equates non-compliance with hate,” he said.

Miller also described the organisation’s understanding of the relevant legislation as “inaccurate”. Pointing to USAH’s X feed, which states that saying “He can’t be a man one day, then a woman the next” is an example of ‘hate speech’ that needs to be stopped, he said that any attempt to characterise this basic gender-critical view as hate speech that requires stopping “amounts to a chilling effect on free speech, an interference in Article 10 ECHR [European Convention on Human Rights], and is an overtly political position”.

Article 10 is the principal piece of legislation protecting the right to freedom of expression in the UK (although there are common law protections for free speech too). Article 10 reads:

“This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority.”

One result of this wording is that police need to be conscious of themselves as representatives of “public authority” whose “interference” can have a chilling effect on freedom of expression.

Nowhere is this more so than in the case of ‘gender-critical’ beliefs, including that sex is biological and immutable, that it is distinct from gender-identity, that people cannot change their sex, and that ‘biological sex’ must not therefore be erased in policy and law simply to appease trans activists.

In 2021 the Forstater Employment Tribunal ruling found that these are ‘philosophical beliefs’ that can be protected from discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Mr Justice Choudhury also made clear that agents of the state, such as the police, must remain “neutral as between competing beliefs, refraining from expressing any judgement as to whether a particular belief is more acceptable than another”.

A spokesperson for Staffordshire Police told the Telegraph: “This event was delivered and facilitated by Uniting Staffordshire Against Hate, and was solely for members of our local community.”

The force added that it would “review the discussions that took place and will consider what, if any, further action is necessary – whilst of course recognising the importance of allowing open conversations between members of the public”.

One of the ‘further actions’ that Staffordshire Police should commit to is providing its officers with more free speech training.

The FSU recently used freedom of information (FoI) requests to assess how well all 41 English and Welsh police forces understand freedom of speech.

We found that a majority of police forces conduct almost no training on freedom of speech while a disproportionate amount of police time is spent on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) training of the kind provided by USAH. (You can read our report in full here).

Thirty-two English and Welsh police forces responded to an FoI question from the FSU asking them to provide any policies or training materials they held regarding the duty to comply with Article 10 of the ECHR. Seven forces declined to answer the question on cost grounds, but of the remaining 25, 44% claimed to hold no information on the duty to comply with Article 10. Eight individual forces included irrelevant EDI policies in their answer to this question, four of whom supplied only EDI information, suggesting that some police forces do not know what Article 10 is.

Fourteen forces acknowledged that Article 10 must be covered somewhere in the training syllabus but could provide no specific information about where or, alternatively, supplied information showing that the entirety of their Article 10 training consisted of little more than a one-line definition. Of this group Gloucestershire Constabulary appeared to provide the most comprehensive Article 10 training: a single page containing 210 words.

This means that, of the 32 forces who responded, 78% are providing no training or inadequate training on Article 10, with the remainder declining to answer.

Thirty-two forces also answered a question asking for details of the training carried out in relation to EDI. One force claimed to hold no information on the subject and a further four stated that EDI was so highly integrated into every aspect of their training that it would exceed the cost limit of the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to extract the necessary information. Fourteen forces described EDI training as a “golden thread” running through every part of their training or reported that EDI was integral to standard training.

In other words, for 56% of the police forces we surveyed, EDI is inextricably embedded in police training.

Primed by partisan EDI training to see any criticism of gender identity ideology as intrinsically ‘hateful’ and in the absence of any meaningful Article 10 training informing them that such speech is legally protected, is it any wonder that the British police have taken to arresting so many gender-critical speakers without a second thought?