Swear and you’ll be arrested

John O'Reilly
John O'Reilly
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When a High Court judge ruled swearing a police officers should not be an offence, it sparked a wave of concern that respect for officers could be seriously damaged.

But officers in Lancashire today insisted that foul-mouthed rants at officers would still earn people a night in the cells. Mr Justice Bean ruled in London’s High Court last month that bad language aimed at officers should not be a criminal offence.

Overturning the conviction of a 19-year-old from London who repeatedly swore at officers while being subjected to a search, Mr Justice Bean said officers were so regularly on the receiving end of the “rather commonplace” expletive that it was unlikely to cause them “harassment, alarm or distress”.

But John O’Reilly, chairman of Lancashire Police Federation, which represents the county’s rank and file officers, today said: “I can tell you that if people choose to swear at officers in Lancashire they will be given a suitable warning and if they carry on they will be arrested.

“You do take a little bit of flak being on the streets...but the fact is if we allow people to walk around swearing at coppers it reflects badly on society.

“If people do it they will be warned. But if they carry on they will be offered bed and breakfast at the taxpayers’ expense.”

Officers in a number of other areas of the country have also said they would continue to arrest people for persistent swearing at officers. Mr Justice Bean said officers would not have been offended by what the arrested teen said.