Incitement to Racial Hatred

Date01 January 1979
Published date01 January 1979
DOI10.1177/002201837904300106
Subject MatterArticle
Article
INCITEMENT TO RACIAL
HATRED
Section 6
of
the
Race Relations Act 1965
introduced
a new
offence
of
Incitement
to Racial Hatred. This crime, unlike
that
under
Section 5
of
the Public
Order
Act
1936,
was
not
subject to
any
test
of
a likeli-
hood
of
a
breach
of
the
peace; its
stated
main aim was to punish
"the
intentional
fomentation
of
hatred
by public
abuse".'
However, it was said in
the
Red
Lion Square
Report
by Scarman LJ
that
Section 6
of
the
Race Relations Act was
"merely
an embarrass-
ment
to
the
police. Hedged
about
with restrictions
(proof
of
intent,
requirement
of
the
Attorney-General's
consent)
it was useless to a
policeman on
the
street".2 Lord Scarman concluded
that
section 6
needed radical
amendment
"to
make it an effective sanction, parti-
cularly, I
think,
its formulation
of
the
intent
to be proved before an
offence can be established
".3
The
shortcomings
of
the section have been
pointed
out
by
many
writers." The inadequacies were highlighted when the
Attorney-
General,
after
consultation
with
the
DPP,decided
that
there
should
not
be
any
prosection
of
the members
of
the
National
Front
who had
distributed racialist leaflets. As
just
one
example
of
a
written
statement
which
the
Attorney-General had decided was
not
within
the
province
of
Section 6there is the following:
Urban slums made
yet
uglier by arrival
of
imported
sub-humanity
bringing disease and filth, rape and drug offences Citizenship
of
the
State,
and hence
participation
in
the
life of
the
nation,
should
be denied to all those
of
alien race, including
the
large coloured and
influential Jewish communities.S
The failure
of
Section 6 in curbing dissemination
of
materials
of
the
above kind can be judged from
the
fact
that
during 1965-76 only 19
prosecutions had taken place." The White Paper on Racial Discrimina-
tion7
pointed
out
that
the law penalised
"crude
verbal
attacks
if and
only if it is established
that
they
have been made with
the
deliberate
intention
of
causing groups to be
hated
because
of
their racial origins....
this is
too
narrow an
approach"."
Even before
that
there was "a
brood-
ing
uncertainty
about
the
incitement provision which has led one
of
the
disenchanted
authors
of
the legislation to describe it as
arbitrary,
unpredictable, and
unworkable"."
The law was
consequently
changed by the Race Relations Act,
1976.1 0
It
is the aim of this paper to analyse the new provisions, com-
pare them with Section 6 of the 1965 Act and to assess their potential
for successfully building "a multiracial society to ensure
that
racism
is driven into
the
gutter
where it
belongs".ll
48

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