Seems like The Police have recently seen sense in the way they interpret the law - Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, to be precise.
Quite rightly of course, this part of the act makes it an offence to utter ‘threatening, abusive’ words ‘to cause harassment, alarm or distress’, but new guidelines say that police officers need to be a bit more thick skinned to carry out their job effectively.
A street preacher was arrested, held for seven hours and charged with a public-order offence after he told a gay PCSO that he believed homosexuals were acting against the “word of God”. The charges have now been dropped and he has been awarded £7,000 plus legal costs in compensation and will get an apology in person from the Chief Constable.
The right to free speech allows people to express unpopular view as long as their behaviour is not unreasonable or violent so it’s about time that beliefs can be expressed which provoke debate rather than be an offence. The police bank account could have been saved a good deal too which could have been used for something more useful to the community.
I don’t believe what the preacher said is true, but then I don’t believe in the phenomenon of “the word of God” either. We all have the right to say what we do or don’t believe, it’s when we force a belief on others that the trouble starts.
I wish everyone a happy Christmas time, whatever our beliefs and hope that the Christmas message of love and peace reaches us and stays with us - those of all religions and none.
Happy Christmas 2010