Hampshire police and crime commissioner Donna Jones condemns force's excessive response to man who shared a social media post showing Progress Pride flag rearranged into shape of a Swastika

HAMPSHIRE’S police and crime commissioner has criticised her own force’s officers for their handling of an arrest of a man for an alleged hate crime.

Friday, 29th July 2022, 5:12 pm

Right-wing activist and founder of the Reclaim Party Laurence Fox was on the scene and shared numerous videos on Twitter of a man being arrested on July 28 by at least six police officers on the driveway of the latter’s own home.

The man, named in the video as Harry Miller, had shared Fox’s post of Progress Pride flags arranged in the shape of a Swastika.

Mr Miller says on the video: ‘This will not end well for Hampshire… being offensive is not an offence.’

Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner Donna Jones (left) has criticised how her force handled a man who posted an offensive video on social media. She is pictured during a walkabout with Hampshire Police Chief Constable Olivia Pinkney in Winchester, Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Mr Fox is heard saying: ‘They just don’t care – they’re brown shirts, they’re Gestapo, they’re Stasi,’ and repeatedly calls the officers ‘a political police force.’

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PCC Mrs Jones said: ‘I am aware of the video published on Twitter which shows the arrest of two men in Hampshire yesterday, one for malicious communications and one for obstruction of a police officer.

‘I have taken this issue up with the constabulary today and have been advised officers made the arrests following a complaint from a member of the public of an alleged hate crime.

Screengrab from a Twitter video by Laurence Fox, showing a man identified as 'Harry Miller' being arrested for allegedly causing offence due to sharing a social media post of Progress Pride flags shaped into a Swastika

‘I am concerned about both the proportionality and necessity of the police’s response to this incident. When incidents on social media receive not one but two visits from police officers, but burglaries and non-domestic break-ins don’t always get a police response, something is wrong.

‘As police commissioner, I am committed to ensuring Hampshire Constabulary serves the public as the majority of people would expect. It appears on this occasion this has not happened.

‘This incident has highlighted a really topical issue which Hampshire Constabulary and other police forces need to learn from. In order to support this I will be writing to the College of Policing to make them aware of this incident and encourage greater clarification on the guidance in order to ensure that police forces can respond more appropriately in the future.’

A Hampshire Police spokesperson said officers attended an address in Aldershot on July 28 to establish the exact circumstances around reports an offensive image had been shared online.

Screengrab from a Twitter video by Laurence Fox, of Fox as he calls Hampshire Police officers 'brown shirts' as a man identified as 'Harry Miller' is arrested for allegedly causing offence due to sharing a social media post of Progress Pride flags shaped into a Swastika

They added: ‘When officers arrived they were prevented from entering the address to discuss a potential resolution to the matter. As a result, officers felt it was necessary to arrest a man at the scene so they could interview him in relation to the alleged offence.

‘A 51-year-old man from Aldershot was arrested on suspicion of sending by public communication network an offensive, indecent, obscene, menacing message or matter. He was released under investigation and now has been no further actioned.

‘It is important to say that our officers come to work every day to protect the public. They were acting in good faith after being deployed to investigate the report of an offensive image being shared online.

‘Policing reports in relation to online content is a complex and challenging picture. We are engaging further with our police and crime commissioner to make sure that we deploy our resource in a way that reflects need in our local communities.’

A 57-year-old man from Market Rasen, Linconshire, was arrested on suspicion of obstructing/resisting a constable in execution of their duty. He was released under investigation.