Keep playground slurs out of police station

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In the days before social media and political correctness, only the foolhardy would have considered making a complaint to the police because someone had called them fat.

A visit to a police enquiry desk would most likely have resulted in the person being advised to stop wasting police time or an officer simply offering their own opinion on whether they were indeed fat or not!

These days there are some who seek to argue that calling someone fat is a hate crime, requiring urgent police action and an immediate arrest. I anticipate this type of disproportionate over-reaction to a minor insult or slur is likely to increase in the build-up to May’s general election. Especially as the trend for politicians and their supporters to make rash, ill thought through tweets, texts or social media comments shows no signs of abating.

Over the next few months, every single social media comment made by any politician or campaigner will be scrutinised and attempts will be made to take the political advantage from any that contain a perceived gaffe or slur.

I suspect we are going to see a regular flow of slighted individuals setting out their case as to why they have been offended, with calls for apologies or sackings. Then depending on the media response to the individual story, these complaints will be followed by either grovelling apologies or some form of decisive punitive response by a political leader.

Unfortunately it has become the norm for the police to be dragged into these issues, no matter how minor. It is worthy of note that it required a detective inspector to investigate and respond to the complaints made about a tweet posted by Katie Hopkins regarding the Scottish nurse diagnosed with Ebola. That tweet is so obviously not a criminal matter, yet the police felt it necessary to make robust enquiries about its potential criminality.

The plot has been badly lost. The police, especially senior ranking detectives, should not be getting involved in anything to do with these school playground types of comments. Over the next few months, I fear a lot of police time is going to be wasted on these petty complaints.

That is unless police forces decide to take a far more practical approach to these cases by providing immediate responses such as Grow Up! Get A Sense Of Humour! Or So What?!