"Police have been banned from arresting foul-mouthed yobs who abuse them with the most offensive swear words in the language. The rule change, which has sparked a revolt in the force and anger among MPs, is revealed in secret advice issued to officers and leaked to The Mail on Sunday.
Scotland Yard has issued a card to its officers, telling them to do nothing if they are subjected to a torrent of obscene abuse.
The card, which the police are told to keep on them, secreted behind their warrant badges, says: ‘The courts do not accept police officers are caused harassment, alarm or distress by words such as ‘f**k, c**t, b*****ks, w*****s’.
The guidance has been issued despite existing laws that sanction the fining of people who swear at police and the jailing of persistent offenders.
Officers have the power to arrest yobs who swear at them, either by quoting the Public Order Act – which prohibits the ‘use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour’ – or as a breach of the peace under Common Law.
But the new guidance, issued to officers in London by the Civil Actions Unit of the Metropolitan Police, states that a prosecution for swearing will be lost without ‘compelling evidence of a person within sight or hearing likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress’. It adds that this is ‘very unlikely to be you [the police officer]’.
Scotland Yard says the advice was issued because compensation had recently been paid out to ‘victims’ who had been ‘falsely’ arrested for swearing.