The Crime and Courts Act containing the amendment to remove ‘insults’ from Section 5 passed into law last week when it gained Royal Assent .
The amendment (now known as Section 57 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013) will not come into force until a commencement order is brought forward by the Government. Home Office officials are said to be deliberating on the timing of this but it is expected to take a matter of months.
The Government has also indicated it would issue new guidance to police to accompany Section 57.
Earlier this year the House of Commons affirmed the amendment to remove “insults” from Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986.
This was a fulfilment of the Home Secretary’s promise to accept the amendment, which was passed by the House of Lords in December.
The Government Minister told the Committee in the House of Commons at the time: “Those who have campaigned for this change in the law feel that the word ‘insulting’ in Section 5 could discourage people from exercising their right to freedom of speech.”
He said he strongly agreed with the view that “people should be able to, for example, express their religious views in the normal course of activities without feeling they are likely to be arrested for that”.