Hate crime investigation following Euro 2020 final leads to 11 arrests

Police forces across the UK investigating racist abuse targeted at England players on social media have made a number of arrests following an operation to track down those responsible for the hate-filled messages.

Aug 5, 2021
By Tony Thompson
Mark Roberts

The UK Football Policing Unit (UKFPU) launched a hate crime investigation following the racist comments directed at some of England’s black players after the Euro 2020 final on July 11.

To date, the investigation team has received more than 600 reports from individuals, charities, clubs and other organisations across the country. Of these reports, 207 were criminal in nature. The UKFPU has made data requests to social media companies to progress further investigations.

Where there have been responses, this information has been passed on to local forces, who have so far arrested 11 people across the UK on suspicion of a number of offences, including malicious communications and breaching section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

Of the 207 posts identified meeting a criminal threshold, 123 accounts belong to individuals outside the UK. The details of these individuals and cases are in the process of being passed on to the relevant country to act on them. A total of 34 accounts have so far been identified as being in the UK, and 11 of these account holders have now been arrested.

The UKFPU is awaiting data from social media companies on the remaining 50 account holders.

Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council football policing lead, said: “There are people out there who believe they can hide behind a social media profile and get away with posting such abhorrent comments. They need to think again – we have investigators proactively seeking out abusive comments in connection to the match and, if they meet a criminal threshold, those posting them will be arrested.

“Our investigation is continuing at pace and we are grateful for those who have taken time to report racist posts to us. The complexities of investigating social media abuse cannot be underestimated. A vast amount of work has gone in to identifying these 11 individuals. I would like to thank Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for responding to our requests promptly.

“In the meantime, we are seeking engagement with the players themselves to offer our support, and seek their input for our investigation and subsequent prosecutions in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service.”

 

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