An 85 year-old retired teacher who wrote a polite letter to a woman in which he disagreed with her stance on abortion, was told by police that the “hate incident” would go on his record.
Douglas Kedge was defending parents rights to abort a foetus with Down’s Syndrome. Last November, Kedge wrote to a woman who was leading a public protest against an episode of Emmerdale in which a couple chose to abort their baby after it was diagnosed with Down’s syndrome.
In the letter he told the woman that he respected her feelings on the matter, but said that there were other perfectly decent people” who, when an early diagnosis was given, took the view that they did not wish to cope with “what could well be for them an appalling change in their lives”.
He wrote; “You disgracefully suggest that the reason for the inclusion of this situation in the script is a deliberate attempt to perpetuate prejudice against Down’s syndrome children”. He pointed out that the episode included another couple who rejoiced in their child with Down’s.
Kedge was horrified to receive a call from a police officer after the woman reported the letter as a hate crime. The officer accepted that the letter was cordial and in no way disrespectful, but told Kedge that a record would be created in line with hate crime guidance.
The retired teacher is worried that he may be unable to volunteer at his local school. He told The Times newspaper:
“I’m worried that I will have to explain to the school that I’m not a criminal. It is so serious if this can happen to anyone who writes a perfectly polite and reasonable letter disagreeing with someone else’s point of view.”
According to The Times:
He (Kedge) is one of 120,000 people in the past five years whose behaviour was reported to police and recorded as a hate incident when it did not reach the criminal threshold.
Priti Patel, the home secretary, has asked the College of Policing to review the policy which is based on Home Office rules, guidance and legislation.
In a letter to the college, Patel said that she was concerned that the recording of hate incidents could ruin lives if they show up on enhanced vetting checks.