Rowling Wins Another Round: Police Back Down on Recording Harry Potter Author’s Comments as ‘Non-Crime Hate Incident’

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling continues to roll with the punches in the wake of the Scottish government enacting a draconian hate speech law, while forcing police into a corner over her comments that men who claim to be women are, in fact, still men.

The Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 came into force on Monday, which, among other provisions, creates a new crime of “stirring up hatred” with a reported punishment of up to seven years in prison.

J.K. Rowling, until recently doyenne of the British left but now brutally cast aside as her solidly feminist perspectives are left behind by the sudden capture of the movement by transgender policy activists, has been all but leading the action against the move to suppress freedom of expression, daring the police to arrest her for calling ‘transgender women’ men.

The Harry Potter author had broadcast a list of self-professed ‘women’ including serious sex offenders and noted they “aren’t women at all, but men, every last one of them”, and added “I look forward to being arrested” on the first day the law was in force given that the government had claimed “misgendering” would violate the new restrictions.

As previously reported, police baulked at the prospect of arresting one of the world’s most famous authors, thereby possibly setting a precedent. Yet now, Rowling’s success in being “deliberately defiant” and knocking the law back on day one has developed further, as police have declined to even record her comments as a “non-crime hate incident”, the Scottish Daily Express reported.

While so-called ‘non-crime hate incidents’ are not part of the new law, they are an emerging area of concern in the United Kingdom, where police hold files against individuals which cannot be appealed and do not expire for years, but which appear on background searches for applicants for sensitive jobs.

The issue has become pervasive and even former police officers have been slapped with unofficial but still damaging records for making relatively mundane criticisms of transgender politics.

Police Scotland’s sudden reticence to surveil the public and use the full powers it has to punish dissent on transgender issues has come as the eyes of the world are upon them, with Rowling’s defiant words exposing the force’s actions as essentially hypocritical. Murdo Fraser MSP, a Conservative lawmaker in Scotland who had a ‘non-crime hate incident’ by Police Scotland, reacted to the revelation the force wouldn’t be making new entries on the subject with incredulity.

Noting Police Scotland was declining to arrest or record incidents against the two Scottish public figures who have attracted the most complaints under the new law — many thousands so far against the creator of the law, First Minister (state governor) Humza Yousaf on the one hand, and against chief critic J.K. Rowling on the other — Murdo said officers are “making it up as they go along”. According to The Times of London, Murdo said:

“This decision means Police Scotland have not only breached their own policy on recording non-crime hate incidents, but now appear to be making it up as they go along.
They have taken a different approach to comments made by the SNP first minister to those made by an opposition politician. It is hard not to conclude that Police Scotland has been captured by the SNP policy agenda and that this is a decision that reeks of political bias.
I hope the chief constable will contact me urgently with an immediate apology for recording a hate incident against me and confirming all records in relation to it have been destroyed. They should also ditch their existing unlawful policy — as has been done in England and Wales — which I believe is a clear breach of people’s human rights.”

Member of Parliament and senior lawyer Joanna Cherry KC MP, a frequent contributor in the trans politics debate and a critic of the new law, also responded to the sudden shift by Police Scotland. She said in a statement:

“It seems Police Scotland are revising their policy on recording non-crime hate incidents on the hoof in order to avoid the embarrassment of recording incidents against an internationally, renowned author & philanthropist & the First Minister of Scotland.
This really isn’t good enough & calls into question the application of the policy to date. The policy should be applied equally to everyone.
Police Scotland should wipe their existing database of non-crime hate incidents and carry out a proper review of their policy in line with the principle of equality before the law.”

Meanwhile, the Scottish government’s community safety minister, Siobhian Brown has blamed “misinformation” for anger against the law.

Until recently, British police forces were recording tens of thousands of hate speech allegations on their national database as ‘non-crime hate incidents’. Former police officer Harry Miller, who was investigated and visited by police officers to “check his thinking” over his social media usage, said of the system: “Non-crime hate incident reports do not appear to have any usefulness as a crime prevention tool, but what they do have is a chilling effect on free speech because they make people think twice before saying or posting something on social media in the fear that it could land them with a criminal record.

“These reports have allowed the police to become weaponised by woke activists who seek to attack and shut people up if they dare to express any views that they do not agree with,” Miller added.

The system was eventually scaled back under orders by the UK Home Secretary in 2023 but it remains in place in Scotland, which has its own police force. Nevertheless, the records are still being made on both sides of the border.

According to the new guidance in the UK, officers in England should “only record non-crime hate incidents when it is absolutely necessary and proportionate and not simply because someone is offended. The measure will better protect people’s fundamental right to freedom of expression as well as their personal data.”

Scotland, meanwhile, continues to actively solicit reports, saying on their website: “When you report a hate crime… If there is not enough evidence we will still record your report as a hate incident… It is important to still report non-criminal hate incidents. This helps us get a clearer picture of what is happening in Scotland and where to focus our attention.”

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