The Hate Crime and Public Order Bill has come under criticism from the legal profession. The Bill is set to be a consolidation of the current hate crimes and aims at bringing together the various existing hate crime laws into a single Act.
The Bill adds crime based on a person’s age to the protected groups. There is current consideration for adding hatred based on a person’s sex. The Bill further makes it an offence to stir up hatred against a protected group and will be amended to ensure that only those who intended on stirring up hatred will be prosecuted. The Bill described stirring up hatred as “behaving in a threatening or abusive manner, or communicating threatening or abusive material to another person”. The Bill shall further make it an offence to possess “inflammatory material” which covers a situation wherein people “have in their possession threatening, abusive or insulting material with a view to communicating the material to another person”.
The Bill has received heavy criticism for potentially infringing free speech. The legal profession have criticised the Bill for its lack of clarity and in particular the lack of clarity on the term “abusive”.