CPS calls for ‘corrosive’ online hate crime to be taken more seriously

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has revised its guidelines so online hate crime can be treated as seriously as face-to-face abuse in the hope that more people will report when they are victimised.

Aug 21, 2017

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has revised its guidelines so online hate crime can be treated as seriously as face-to-face abuse in the hope that more people will report when they are victimised. As reports of hate crime increase, the CPS has been consulting with community groups and criminal justice partners on the different strands of abuse. Writing in the Guardian, Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said online hate crime can be “equally devastating” as offline, adding that it can fuel “dangerous hostility”. Offences against bisexual people are included in guidance for the first time, including being victimised by gay men or lesbians. The CPS suggests online hate crime cases should be pursued with the same “robust and proactive approach used with offline offending”. It also says exceptions should be made if a child has committed the crime, and may not appreciate the potential harm they have caused by publishing hateful abuse online. The CPS has also launched a social media campaign called #HateCrimeMatters to encourage members of the public to report hate crime incidents. It has published an online support guide specifically for disabled victims and witnesses of hate crime. Ms Saunders said: “Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society and that is why it is a priority area for the CPS. It can affect entire communities, forcing people to change their way of life and live in fear. “These documents take account of the current breadth and context of offending to provide prosecutors with the best possible chance of achieving justice for victims. They also let victims and witnesses know what they should expect from us. “I hope that, along with this week`s campaign, they will give people the confidence to come forward and report hate crime, in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and given the support they need.” An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Children should be as safe online as they are offline, and this new guidance is an important step that will help authorities bring offenders to justice. “Social media companies must also take swift action to remove hate speech and pass appropriate evidence on to police.” During 2015/16, the CPS prosecuted more than 15,000 hate crime incidents, with a conviction rate of 83 per cent – the highest number ever.

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