Public Order Act 1986

The Public Order Act 1986 outlaws incitement to racial hatred and must be taken into consideration by IT professionals in order to protect workers and prevent an offence being carried using the organisation's computers, systems and networks.

Incitement to racial hatred

The Act: abolishes the common law offences of riot, rout, unlawful assembly and affray and certain statutory offences relating to public order; creates new offences relating to public order; controls public processions and assemblies; controls the stirring up of racial hatred; provides for the exclusion of certain offenders from sporting events; creates a new offence relating to the contamination of or interference with goods; confers power to direct certain trespassers to leave land; amends section 7 of the Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act 1875, section 1 of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953, Part V of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 1980 and the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985.

The Public Order Act 1986 covers the crime of Incitement to Racial Hatred. The law covering criminally racist material makes it an offence to stir up racial hatred against a group of persons in Great Britain defined by reference to colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.


A person is guilty of an offence if he uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

Further Information


Public Order Act 1986