repealing-unnecessary-laws/amend-the-public-order-act-with-using-threatening-abusive-or-insulting-words-with-intent-to-cause-a-person-harassment-alarm

 

Currently it can be an offence to call somebody names and I give the following link as a prime example:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8771721.stm

Why is this idea important?

 

Currently it can be an offence to call somebody names and I give the following link as a prime example:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8771721.stm

Amendments to the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006

Although there are many strong arguments in favour of shielding the adherents of a religious ideology from hatred, these arguments should not extend to the protection of ideas that constitute that religious ideology. To do so would be to the detriment of our democratic way of life, and would disproportionally inhibit those of us (myself included) who wish to tackle the unwarranted hatred espoused by certain religious ideologies, whether that be towards the gay community, women or other sub-groups in our society. There are many religious texts in Britain today whose verses are at best ambiguious, or at worst inciteful so as to provide a justification for one section of society to oppress another, or to commit horrendous acts of terrorism. This ambiguity, and the empirical evidence that corroborates these assertions in the form of 9/11 or IRA terrorism, could lead quite justifiably to an athiest such as myself, to conclude that they "hate" a religious ideology, or even all religious ideologies if hateful sentiments can be inferred from them across the board. Currently however, only expressions of "antipathy" are allowed against religious texts, not "hatred". While I do not personally advocate "hatred" against a religious ideology, I can see why an individual might feel that way inclined, and therefore do not believe they should be arrested for this. Accordingly, I believe a supplementary protection for freedom of speech should be added to section 29J of the Act, as highlighted in bold:

"29J Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of hatred, antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system."
 

Why is this idea important?

Although there are many strong arguments in favour of shielding the adherents of a religious ideology from hatred, these arguments should not extend to the protection of ideas that constitute that religious ideology. To do so would be to the detriment of our democratic way of life, and would disproportionally inhibit those of us (myself included) who wish to tackle the unwarranted hatred espoused by certain religious ideologies, whether that be towards the gay community, women or other sub-groups in our society. There are many religious texts in Britain today whose verses are at best ambiguious, or at worst inciteful so as to provide a justification for one section of society to oppress another, or to commit horrendous acts of terrorism. This ambiguity, and the empirical evidence that corroborates these assertions in the form of 9/11 or IRA terrorism, could lead quite justifiably to an athiest such as myself, to conclude that they "hate" a religious ideology, or even all religious ideologies if hateful sentiments can be inferred from them across the board. Currently however, only expressions of "antipathy" are allowed against religious texts, not "hatred". While I do not personally advocate "hatred" against a religious ideology, I can see why an individual might feel that way inclined, and therefore do not believe they should be arrested for this. Accordingly, I believe a supplementary protection for freedom of speech should be added to section 29J of the Act, as highlighted in bold:

"29J Protection of freedom of expression

Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of hatred, antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system."
 

Repeal the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994

The Criminal Justice Act which was made law under the Major administration brought into effect many laws that infringed civil liberties such as: Ending the right to silence and unregulated stop and search. The government should re-visit this legislation and make changes so that civil liberties are no longer infringed.

Why is this idea important?

The Criminal Justice Act which was made law under the Major administration brought into effect many laws that infringed civil liberties such as: Ending the right to silence and unregulated stop and search. The government should re-visit this legislation and make changes so that civil liberties are no longer infringed.

Comprehensive review of public order offences.

There is a need for public order offences however there are some demonstrable inconsistencies in them that need to be cleared up.

Section 5 dealing with offensive language and conduct. Most people would assume this law relates to "swearing" however the way the act is written allows a great deal of latitude because it allows for subjectivity. The most common issues are during protests, for instance the threat of a section 5 arrest has been used to prevent protestors in the UK from using the phrase "dangerous cult" with respect to the cult of scientology because it was deemed as possibly offensive to scientologists, whom I doubt would disagree.

Ironically legislation relating to religious hatred (2006) includes the very specific protection for the freedom of expression, which according to my research in Hansards was in part inserted in light of comments related to the church of scientology which states: 

"Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system."

which means you should be able to say scientology is a dangerous cult.

I can understand the need  to protect people from threats or personal abuse but not the need to protect them from being offended especially since it is down to the police to decide whether or not your offence warrants their time and effort.

Why is this idea important?

There is a need for public order offences however there are some demonstrable inconsistencies in them that need to be cleared up.

Section 5 dealing with offensive language and conduct. Most people would assume this law relates to "swearing" however the way the act is written allows a great deal of latitude because it allows for subjectivity. The most common issues are during protests, for instance the threat of a section 5 arrest has been used to prevent protestors in the UK from using the phrase "dangerous cult" with respect to the cult of scientology because it was deemed as possibly offensive to scientologists, whom I doubt would disagree.

Ironically legislation relating to religious hatred (2006) includes the very specific protection for the freedom of expression, which according to my research in Hansards was in part inserted in light of comments related to the church of scientology which states: 

"Nothing in this Part shall be read or given effect in a way which prohibits or restricts discussion, criticism or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents, or proselytising or urging adherents of a different religion or belief system to cease practising their religion or belief system."

which means you should be able to say scientology is a dangerous cult.

I can understand the need  to protect people from threats or personal abuse but not the need to protect them from being offended especially since it is down to the police to decide whether or not your offence warrants their time and effort.

Repeal of the laws covering the causing of ‘offence’

A section of the Public Order Act deals exclusively with the causing of 'offence',in other words,if something or someone 'offends' you,you may have recourse to the law to settle virtually any dispute or argument.The repeal,or amendment,of this section of the POA would go a long way to reversing the trend for the infantilisation of public thinking and be part of a return to a more adult approach to the solving of disputes,disagreements.There are existing laws to deal with situations where a person or persons are engaged in 'disorderly conduct' any and all disputes not covered by this pre-existant law,should only become legal disputes if there is/are case(s) of public indecency,violence,racial-hate,sexual discrimination or a breach of the peace.

Why is this idea important?

A section of the Public Order Act deals exclusively with the causing of 'offence',in other words,if something or someone 'offends' you,you may have recourse to the law to settle virtually any dispute or argument.The repeal,or amendment,of this section of the POA would go a long way to reversing the trend for the infantilisation of public thinking and be part of a return to a more adult approach to the solving of disputes,disagreements.There are existing laws to deal with situations where a person or persons are engaged in 'disorderly conduct' any and all disputes not covered by this pre-existant law,should only become legal disputes if there is/are case(s) of public indecency,violence,racial-hate,sexual discrimination or a breach of the peace.

restoration of the right to gather in public in numbers greater than the Public Order Act allows

The Public Order Act allows the police to break-up and or commit arrest on members of a gathering of three or more,this is an infringement of the right to free association as well as the right to peaceful protest.There were/are existing laws which allowed the police to ensure public order and yet allow the peaceful and legal gathering of significant numbers of people.

Why is this idea important?

The Public Order Act allows the police to break-up and or commit arrest on members of a gathering of three or more,this is an infringement of the right to free association as well as the right to peaceful protest.There were/are existing laws which allowed the police to ensure public order and yet allow the peaceful and legal gathering of significant numbers of people.

Limit the scope of public order laws

There are several laws connected with public order that are very open-ended in their scope. A leading example is section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which gives the offence of using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour … within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”. This could cover almost anything.

On the one hand, the police need to have reasonably open-ended powers, so that the constable on the spot can use his or her common sense. On the other hand, such laws can be used by police who happen not to like activity that is perfectly legitimate. For example, section 5 was used against people who were holding up placards opposite the London Scientology Centre in Queen Victoria Street on 10 May 2008.

So I suggest attaching to all such powers a list of activities that are not, in themselves, offences under those powers. One would need to consult on what should be on the list, but a couple of obvious examples would be holding up placards and going about completely nude in public.

This approach should be applied to any common law offences of this nature, as well as to statutory offences.

 

Activities that happened to include activities on the list might still be offences. Thus holding up a placard and waving it about in such a way as to endanger passers-by might be an offence.

 

The approach will not be perfect: there will be scope to argue about what should be on the list of exclusions from being offences. But it should cover a good deal of the ground, and leave us in a much better position than we are now.
 

Why is this idea important?

There are several laws connected with public order that are very open-ended in their scope. A leading example is section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, which gives the offence of using "threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour … within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”. This could cover almost anything.

On the one hand, the police need to have reasonably open-ended powers, so that the constable on the spot can use his or her common sense. On the other hand, such laws can be used by police who happen not to like activity that is perfectly legitimate. For example, section 5 was used against people who were holding up placards opposite the London Scientology Centre in Queen Victoria Street on 10 May 2008.

So I suggest attaching to all such powers a list of activities that are not, in themselves, offences under those powers. One would need to consult on what should be on the list, but a couple of obvious examples would be holding up placards and going about completely nude in public.

This approach should be applied to any common law offences of this nature, as well as to statutory offences.

 

Activities that happened to include activities on the list might still be offences. Thus holding up a placard and waving it about in such a way as to endanger passers-by might be an offence.

 

The approach will not be perfect: there will be scope to argue about what should be on the list of exclusions from being offences. But it should cover a good deal of the ground, and leave us in a much better position than we are now.
 

Amend the Public Order Act with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words, with intent to cause a person harassment, alarm or distress”.

Currently it can be an offence to call somebody names and I give the following link as a prime example:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8771721.stm

Why is this idea important?

Currently it can be an offence to call somebody names and I give the following link as a prime example:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/8771721.stm

Abolish The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act

 

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act is a waste of tax-payer's money and police time.

'Free parties' / 'raves' and their attendees seldom cause any real harm.   Despite this, huge amounts of money are spent on a massive police presence to shut down these events – including masses of police, helicopters, riot police etc.  For what?  A bunch of people trying to have a good time.  Just because these event are not held in stuffy clubs and pubs where most of the violence and nuisance happens anyway.  Raves are mostly full peace-loving, friendly folk who don't want to cause any trouble, yet the police turn up all fired up, ready for a fight and their behaviour is getting increasingly violent, provocative and brutal, just as they are at protests/demonstrations.    However, I do think the council / police should issue penalties (fines) to parties that don't clear up after themselves (although most do).

The question is: WHAT IS THE PERCEIVED THREAT which justifies this act and the huge amount of money spent enforcing it? 

These events certainly do not threaten your average citizen are generally peaceful gatherings.

Why is this idea important?

 

The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act is a waste of tax-payer's money and police time.

'Free parties' / 'raves' and their attendees seldom cause any real harm.   Despite this, huge amounts of money are spent on a massive police presence to shut down these events – including masses of police, helicopters, riot police etc.  For what?  A bunch of people trying to have a good time.  Just because these event are not held in stuffy clubs and pubs where most of the violence and nuisance happens anyway.  Raves are mostly full peace-loving, friendly folk who don't want to cause any trouble, yet the police turn up all fired up, ready for a fight and their behaviour is getting increasingly violent, provocative and brutal, just as they are at protests/demonstrations.    However, I do think the council / police should issue penalties (fines) to parties that don't clear up after themselves (although most do).

The question is: WHAT IS THE PERCEIVED THREAT which justifies this act and the huge amount of money spent enforcing it? 

These events certainly do not threaten your average citizen are generally peaceful gatherings.

Repeal Sections 4A and 5 Public Order Act 1986

 

 

Sections 4A and 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 should be repealed and replaced with the text below. 

Section 4A is overbroad and no longer needed in its current form. Section 5 is also an overbroad section that licences arbitrary interferences with free speech and peace protest. It is so overbroad that it grants the police carte blanc to arrest those whose views they find objectionable, or people they want to simply control. The police have ample powers to deal with disorderly or anti-social conduct. And there are also adequate provisions on the statute book to deal with harassment.

These sections should be repealed and replaced with a provision that requires an intent to cause a breach of the peace. This would bring the law into conformity with the ECHR and go some way to restoring old the common law position.

Section 5 Insulting, Abusive or Threatening Conduct

(1) Any person who in any public place uses threatening, abusive or insulting conduct, words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or where by a breach of the peace would be imminent in all the circumstances shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) Any person who displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or where by a breach of the peace would be imminent in all the circumstances shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) No offence shall be committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a domestic dwelling.

(4) A ‘public place’ in subsection (1) includes a public meeting.

Why is this idea important?

 

 

Sections 4A and 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 should be repealed and replaced with the text below. 

Section 4A is overbroad and no longer needed in its current form. Section 5 is also an overbroad section that licences arbitrary interferences with free speech and peace protest. It is so overbroad that it grants the police carte blanc to arrest those whose views they find objectionable, or people they want to simply control. The police have ample powers to deal with disorderly or anti-social conduct. And there are also adequate provisions on the statute book to deal with harassment.

These sections should be repealed and replaced with a provision that requires an intent to cause a breach of the peace. This would bring the law into conformity with the ECHR and go some way to restoring old the common law position.

Section 5 Insulting, Abusive or Threatening Conduct

(1) Any person who in any public place uses threatening, abusive or insulting conduct, words or behaviour with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or where by a breach of the peace would be imminent in all the circumstances shall be guilty of an offence.

(2) Any person who displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting with intent to provoke a breach of the peace or where by a breach of the peace would be imminent in all the circumstances shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) No offence shall be committed where the words or behaviour are used, or the writing, sign or other visible representation is displayed, by a person inside a domestic dwelling.

(4) A ‘public place’ in subsection (1) includes a public meeting.