Journal Article

‘Hit them on the Nose’: Representations of Policing in Parliamentary Debates About Incitement to Hatred on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation

Paul Johnson and Robert M. Vanderbeck

in Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice

Volume 5, issue 1, pages 65-74
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 1752-4512
Published online September 2010 | e-ISSN: 1752-4520 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/police/paq042
‘Hit them on the Nose’: Representations of Policing in Parliamentary Debates About Incitement to Hatred on the Grounds of Sexual Orientation

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This article provides an analysis of representations of policing within recent UK Parliamentary debates about the offence of ‘hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation’. A striking feature of these debates was how legislators deployed distinct, largely un-evidenced representations of policing to support broader ideological arguments about the regulation of speech (particularly religiously motivated speech). Sceptics and opponents of hate speech legislation, relying largely on anecdote and sensationalized media stories, represented the police as over-zealous, heavy-handed, incompetent, and intent on suppressing the rights of people of faith. These representations matter for police policy and practice in two key ways: first, they demonstrate an absence of evidence-based consideration of operational policing during law making and, second, they potentially influence the sensitive relationships between police and minority groups. We argue that such representations are a potential consequence of the lack of independent empirical research about the policing of ‘hate speech’.

Journal Article.  5400 words. 

Subjects: Policing

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