Is it illegal to disrespect a police officer?

No it is not. The police are not your guardians, your superiors, nor do they hold any rank over you. The public are under no obligation to follow ‘orders’ issued by the police, only to obey laws set down by Parliament.

Unfortunately, too many officers operate under the belief that the public owe them a duty of respect and co-operation. But, bad manners are not a criminal offence. Furthermore, in the interests of protecting your civil liberties, you should always ask questions and resist any unlawful demands made of you by the police.

For instance, being told to exit your vehicle during a routine traffic stop, demands that you allow them into your home when they arrive without a warrant, powers of arrest or powers to force entry and above all else when being told that you MUST answer your questions. These are typical demands that the police impose upon the public under the mistaken belief that the public must obey by virtue of it being issued by a police officer.

If in doubt as to what the limits are of a policeman’s authority, ask him to state specifically what crime you commit by refusing to follow his demands. If the officer mistates the law, and forces you to do something you are under no legal obligation to do, you could potentially sue them for assault.