Lib Dem success as Home Secretary confirms government to back amendment to Public Order Act

The Guardian reports that, following a high-profile campaign, the government has agreed to retain an amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill going some way to implementing Lib Dem party policy (pdf) on the Public Order Act:

In a government climb down, the Public Order Act that covers speech and writing on signs and states: “A person is guilty of an offence if he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour”, will be changed to remove the word insulting. The move follows a high-profile campaign which united Christian and secular groups and was spearheaded by the comedian Rowan Atkinson, the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and the former shadow home secretary David Davis.

The push to change section five of the act followed a series of headline-grabbing arrests and prosecutions ranging from an Oxford student asking a police officer “Do you realise your horse is gay?” which Thames Valley police described as homophobic and “offensive to people passing by”, to a 16 year old holding up a placard that said “Scientology is a dangerous cult”.

In December, the government suffered a heavy defeat in the House of Lords which voted 150 votes to 54 in favour of an amendment to remove the word “insulting”. Campaigners had complained the clause had been used by police as a “catch-all” offence to arrest people on trivial matters. It will continue to be illegal to use insulting language when an victim is clearly identifiable.

May told MPs the government was “not minded to challenge the amendment” made by the Lords even though ministers “believe that the police should be able to take action when they are sworn at, when protesters burn poppies on Armistice day and in similar scenarios”.

She added: “I respect the review taken by their lordships, they had concerns which I know are shared by some in this House that Section 5 encroaches upon freedom of expression. On the other hand the view expressed by many in the police is that Section 5 including the word ‘insulting’ is a valuable tool in helping them keep the peace and maintain public order.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

Read more by or more about or .
This entry was posted in News.
Advert

2 Comments

  • “On the other hand the view expressed by many in the police is that Section 5 including the word ‘insulting’ is a valuable tool in helping them”

    That’s the whole point.

  • Peter Watson 15th Jan '13 - 1:23pm

    Good news for Andrew Mitchell? 😉

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJane Ann Liston 23rd Jul - 10:01am
    David, I'm a bit worried if education is considered only a 'middle-class concern' (whatever you mean by 'middle-class', it is clearly not complimentary). It reinforces...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 23rd Jul - 9:39am
    I fully agree with the need for action against racism in all its forms. Please support the resolution on 'fighting racism' that Calderdale have put...
  • User Avatarbob sayer 23rd Jul - 9:33am
    Congratulations to all including those whilst the result was disappointing, at least gave Lib Dems in the area someone to vote for. But surely if...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 23rd Jul - 9:02am
    Lorenzo Cherin Also, how can bringing in tax revenue from the poorest , ie the lowest in the income ladder , be a good progressive...
  • User AvatarMatthew Huntbach 23rd Jul - 8:54am
    Lorenzo Cherin How on earth you can be so dismissive or critical of Jack Haines , a young man still in his teens with an...
  • User AvatarRoger Roberts 23rd Jul - 8:22am
    When we were in Coalition with the Tories I was always able to rejoice in the fact that Lib Dems had, as part of the...
Sat 23rd Jul 2016
Sun 24th Jul 2016
Tue 26th Jul 2016
Thu 28th Jul 2016
Sat 30th Jul 2016
Mon 1st Aug 2016
Sat 6th Aug 2016
Wed 10th Aug 2016
Fri 12th Aug 2016
19:00
Thu 18th Aug 2016