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Police and street preachers in Scotland seek to prevent hate incidents

A street preacher was wrongfully detained and won £15,000 in damages and legal costs, but the police logged in a 'non-crime hate incident report' against him.

FUENTES Christian Institute AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus GLASGOW 17 DE ENERO DE 2024 14:19 h
Scotland police car. / [link] Carlesmari[/link], Wikimedia commons.

The Scottish police has paid a large amount of damages to Angus Cameron, a street preacher and former pastor who was wrongfully detained in Glasgow in 2022.

He received £5,500 in damages, as well as £9,400 in legal costs. He donated the whole compensation to the Christian Institute, which provided legal assistance to him.


Wrongfully detained

Cameron was preaching in Glasgow city centre, when “he was searched in the roadway, in full view, being put in the back of a police van for over an hour”, said Simon Calver ot the Christian Institute. The preacher was later released.

The police said he was arrested for "breach of the peace with homophobic aggravation", but they called him two days later, to tell him that he would not be prosecuted. However, police officers logged in a 'non-crime hate incident report' against him.

“Despite knowing full well that the complaint against him did not amount to a criminal offence, his good name is to be associated with ‘hatred’ and potential criminality in police records", said Calvert. “His preaching was not targeting individuals; he did not use offensive language; he was not aggressive; he did not try to cause offence; he simply quoted the Bible. There was no criminality at all”.

[photo_footer] The street preacher was searched by the police. / Christian Institute   [/photo_footer] 


A 'Street Preachers Charter'

Police Scotland has recently announced it was reviewing its policy and looking at the College of Policing’s guidance on non-crime hate incidents

In this context, the Christian Institute has offered any "constructive help and assistance that we can provide”. The group is developing a 'Street Preachers' Charter', which aims to reach "an agreed understanding between police and preachers over freedom of speech, and to encourage 'best practice' on both sides”.

They hope to “appeal to and work with those whom God has called to this public ministry, to ensure they preach knowing their legal rights, and to help them as they witness on behalf of local churches”, pointed out Simon Calvert.

That would also “benefit our discussions with local authorities as we try to help them improve religious literacy and the quality of their staff training in how to engage with street preachers”.


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