Letter from DCI David Tucker, Racial and
Violent Crime Task Force
Please find enclosed examples of faith hate
material that I circulated during my appearance before the Select
Document 1 is a copy of a sticker that was attached
to the door of a refuge for people suffering harassment at their
home. You will see that it has "No Mosques" written
thereon, the other illegible writing states "No Muslims".
The victim of this incident had been suffering long term racial
abuse from neighbours and had moved to the refuge for safety.
The material was dealt with as an offence under section 5 of the
Public Order Act 1986. It was posted before the Anti-terrorism,
Crime and Security Act 2001 received Royal Assent. It would now
be aggravated by faith hatred and attract a higher sentence. However,
it is still a summary only offence.
Document 2 was received through the post at
a school. The school is not a Muslim school, although it has a
high number of minority ethnic pupils. It was received shortly
after the terrorist attacks in USA. It was dealt with as a malicious
communication. Once again, faith hatred could not be considered
as an aggravating feature because the relevant legislation had
not been passed. Malicious communication is not an offence specified
under the recent legislation. This means that faith hatred is
an aggravating feature, which should increase any penalty imposed
on an offender, up to the existing limit of the offence. The offence
is summary only.
Document 3 is a flyer for a meeting. It was
dealt with as incitement to incite racial hatred.
The three documents highlight the differences
in the way the law addresses faith hatred. Document 3 is anti-Semitic
and falls within existing incitement legislation. This is because
of the position of Jews as both a religious and racial group.
Muslims, on the other hand, are only a faith group.
Documents 1 and 2 were both seized by police
before the latest legislation. However, even if the legislation
had been in force, the penalties would be limited because neither
is triable on indictment. Document 1 would be an offence under
section 31 Crime and Disorder Act 1998, as amended. The maximum
penalty was increased to a maximum fine of £2,500. Document
2 is not within the ambit of offences specified by the Act. Therefore,
it falls under the general provisions of section 82 of the Crime
and Disorder Act 1998, as amended. The maximum sentence is six
If documents 1 and 2 could be charged as incitement
to faith hatred, and I would argue that the wording is unequivocal,
then the sentences could be greatly increased. They could also
be made triable on indictment.
Document 3 would not be an offence of incitement
if the target group were Muslims, except in so far as general
incitement offences would apply. If the seminar that the flyer
advertises discussed killing Muslims no specific offence of inciting
faith hatred would be committed.
It is these circumstances, where the law is
limited, that a specific offence of faith hatred would assist
police to prosecute offences properly.
A further consideration, not mentioned during
my appearance with Mr Fahy and Mr Baines, is the problem of time
limits. Where offences are summary only, prosecution must commence
within six months. Some forensic procedures take longer than six
months, barring prosecution.
11 July 2002