Merseyside Police were forced to respond after officers took part in an electronic ad campaign outside a supermarket which claimed “being offensive is an offence,” with authorities later clarifying that it is in fact not an offence.
Over the weekend, the mobile electronic billboard was parked outside an Asda supermarket for a PR campaign.
“Being offensive is an offence” states the ad, which features a police badge superimposed over an LGBT rainbow flag.
“Merseyside Police stand with and support the LGBTQI+ community, we will not tolerate hate crime on any level. Come and speak to #TeamBeb,” states the text on the ad.
Merseyside Police outside an Asda store today. “Being offensive is an offence.” Staggering. pic.twitter.com/VBeCJsDS2s— Paul Embery (@PaulEmbery) February 21, 2021
The billboard received a huge backlash, with many people pointing out that it is in fact not a criminal offence to be offensive.
Merseyside Police were forced to later clarify in a statement that “being an offensive is not in itself an offence.”
Statement from Superintendent Martin Earl regarding a message on an advan and our social media channels this weekend. pic.twitter.com/oyHs9eVtJM— MerPol Wirral (@MerPolWirral) February 22, 2021
Maybe they should have realized that before putting it in big letters on the side of a van.
The force said that the ad was intended to “encourage people to report hate crime” and “although well intentioned was incorrect and we apologise for any confusion this may have caused.”
Although being “offensive” isn’t illegal in the UK, there is a crime of being “grossly offensive,” but that carries with it a high bar to reach court and is very hard to prove.
Here are the Thought Police.— Peter Whittle AM (@prwhittle) February 22, 2021
So appalling is this you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a mock up for some dystopian drama.
But no, it’s Merseyside Police pictured outside an Asda.
Even the demeanour of these four cops speaks volumes. pic.twitter.com/N9rPazXxWG
As a result of underfunding, police forces in the UK are struggling to keep up with rising crime rates. Back in 2015, the head of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said that officers would be unable to attend some burglaries.
This has led to widespread criticism that authorities are too fixated on policing thought crimes while actual crimes are being ignored.
“Are there no problems with gun or knife crime in Merseyside then?” asked Nigel Farage.
Are there no problems with gun or knife crime in Merseyside then? https://t.co/ooWgRIBrlz— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) February 22, 2021
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Image credit: Merseyside Police