Ann Coffey MP has called for a change in the law to make using racist abuse in a house or flat an offence after a Greater Manchester police officer was called a “nigger”.
Currently, under Section 4A of the Public Order Act 1986, no offence is committed if “harassment, alarm or distress” takes place inside a dwelling.
Ms Coffey has tabled an amendment to the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, to be debated today, to make it an offence to use racist or other abusive insults against a police officer who is present in the dwelling in the execution of his or her duty.
She decided to call for a change in the law after being approached by a serving police officer from her Stockport constituency who described attending a property where two men were aggressively arguing and one was very drunk and called one of the police officers a “nigger”.
The officer described seeing her colleague abused. She told Ms Coffey:
“I was quite horrified that he had to endure this kind of abuse. I felt very frustrated and helpless that we could not charge the offender with any offence.”
Ms Coffey said: “Many people are under the impression that racist abuse is an offence wherever it is committed. But this is not the case.
“I shocked to hear that the offender could not be charged with an offence because it was in a dwelling.
She added: “We need to protect those people who serve us and so I think there should be a change in the law. I appreciate that we need to be careful about restricting people expressing views in their own home, however distasteful, but my change involves insulting a police officer who is in the house in the execution of his or her duty. I think most reasonable people would think that was fair.”
“This is by no means an isolated case and I suspect that other professionals, such as social workers and health visitors, have also been subjected to racist abuse, whilst visiting a person in their home address.”