In a chilling development since my last post about the police warning the public not cause offence, see here, Suffolk Police have visited the home of a former Councillor, a Mr Boxford, to offer him ‘words of advice’ about his social media use, see here.
The posts involved robust criticism of local politicians. Suffolk police said:
“Concerns were raised with police that some comments had been made regarding a member of the town council which they believed to be derogatory in nature – this included posts on social media.
Two individuals have subsequently been spoken to by officers and offered words of advice regarding these comments and in particular the appropriate use of social media”.
The police apparently admitted that no crime had been committed, as according to Mr Boxford, they said that he was not in trouble and had done nothing wrong.
This leads to the question, what were they doing visiting Mr Boxford if they did not even suspect any criminal activity on the part of Mr Boxer? The police are not an advisory service; it is not their function to provide unsolicited advice on social media use or public relations matters. Why does making “derogatory” comments warrant a visit by the police?
When considered in the wider political context, i.e. where there are proposals for further legislative restrictions on free expression, one could infer that this is an attempt to de-sensitize the public against further restrictions on free speech, not yet permitted by legislation.