According to Telegraph UK law allows in some cases for "non-crimes" to appear on one's criminal records:

Incidents must be logged by police and can show up on a DBS check even if officers accept there was no crime

Police have recorded nearly 120,000 “non-crime” hate incidents and may have stopped those accused from getting jobs

An alternative source for the same information is this one.

It has been revealed that 34 police forces in England and Wales recorded almost 120,000 ‘non-crime’ hate incidents between 2014-2019.

So called ‘hate incidents’ must be recorded “irrespective of whether there is any evidence to identify the hate element”, according to the College of Policing (CoP) guidelines.

Although such cases are not crimes, they can appear during criminal record checks.

I find strange that these incidents might appear on criminal record:

  • the "non-crime" suggests being minor
  • they seem to be very subjective as they are based on someone's perception of how another person is acting

There seems to be a lack of proportionality between the act and the effect (having a criminal record clearly affects employment).

What are the political arguments that were used to support this law?

Note: according to West Yorkshire Police a non-crime appears in the context of hate crimes (not a clear definition, but at least the expression is clearly used with examples):

A hate incident is any non-crime incident which is perceived by the victim or any other person to be motivated by hostility or prejudice based on a person's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity or perceived disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Examples include:

Verbal or online abuse, insults or harassment, such as taunting, offensive leaflets and posters, abusive gestures, dumping of rubbish outside homes or through letterboxes, and bullying at school or in the workplace. A hate incident doesn't mean that we won't take it seriously if someone reports it.

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    What exactly is a non-crime? Please provide some more detail about what you are asking about.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 16:32
  • This reads like a statement, not a question. One can be inferred, but some edits could help it out a lot. Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 17:50
  • @JoeW - could not find an exact definition, but found a clear context with examples of its usage in what seems to be an official police website.
    – Alexei
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 20:02
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    @WilliamWalkerIII I have tried my best to clarify my question. Hope it is clearer now.
    – Alexei
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 20:02
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    Just a bit of background/context; UK record checking was overhauled after the Soham murders when it was found that the murdered had been repeatedly accused/charged with sexual assault of underage girls, but had never been successfully prosecuted and had been able to get a job at a school. Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 22:48

2 Answers 2


There is no magic rule that says that misconduct must be either legal and have no consequences, or must be a crime.

The British government, in particular, has long recognized a place for concepts like "moral character" in occupational and business licensing and for immigration and nationality purposes, that leaves open the possibility of conduct that has negative legal effects despite not being a crime to commit.

Officially maintained records of hateful conduct fill this middle ground in much the same way that "bad moral character", poor credit records, arrest records, terrorist watch lists, immigration status records, conduct for which there are civil lawsuit consequences but not criminal consequences (like lawsuits for defamation), or conduct that can lead to loss of a driver's license have in past legislation. Athletes can be punished non-criminally for using legal drugs that in the context of their sport are still viewed as unfair to use, or dishonorable to use.

Hate incidents reflect on an individual's character and propensity to engage in conduct that it against anti-discrimination laws in the future. A government may legitimately decide to keep records about such incidents for the legitimate use of employers and others going forward, so long as the records are reasonably accurate, but may also legitimately decide that criminalizing this conduct causes more harm than it does benefits.

  • Thank you for the elaborate answer which makes very clear for me. Ref. to "The British government (..) has long recognized a place for concepts like "moral character" in occupational and business licensing and for immigration and nationality purposes" I am wondering if this is something specific to British, or if other governments (from liberal democracies) have similar concepts.
    – Alexei
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 20:09
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    @Alexei My knowledge of that detail is limited to common law legal systems (which derive it from the British system), although my answer is limited simply because that is the scope of the question. I don't know how civil law countries or countries that don't fit neatly into the civil law/common law box for their legal systems, address this issue. I suspect that it is more common in common law legal systems which, in general, resort more heavily to intersubjective social norms that aren't in writing (e.g. "reasonable man" tests).
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Jul 16, 2021 at 20:26
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    @Alexei Not just British. See e.g. the [immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/help-support/meeting-our-requirements/… test[/url] for getting an Australian visa. I think most countries have similar provisions allowing them to deny a visa on "character" grounds, even when the applicant has no criminal record.
    – G_B
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 8:39
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    @Ryan_L how is that different from a job requiring a clean driving license? There's no trial, its your word against the speed camera's
    – Caleth
    Commented Jul 17, 2021 at 12:23
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    "A government may legitimately decide to keep records about such incidents for the legitimate use of employers and others going forward" Using governmental resources to keep tabs on people with unpopular opinions absolutely is not legitimate. Commented Jul 20, 2021 at 0:56

As I understand it, this was a result of the Soham murders: two 10 year old girls were killed by a Ian Huntley, who worked as a caretaker at their school. Huntley had a history of sexual offences, but for various reasons had never been charged. As a result this history was not known to his employers. This led to a more stringent system, including the disclosure of information about allegations and investigations which did not lead to a conviction.

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