Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Crown Prosecution Service Wants Online Abuse to Be Treated Like Face-to-Face Abuse

Online hate crime has been rising. AGENCIES Online hate crime has been rising. AGENCIES
Kenny Thornton | 21 August, 2017, 23:27

Public statements communicate intent, showing that the CPS considers hate crime a priority - particularly considering prosecutions of these offences are at an all-time high - and a policy area that demands specific attention.

Whether shouted in their face on the street, daubed on their wall or tweeted into their living room, the impact of hateful abuse on a victim can be equally devastating.

In its newly posted guidelines, the CPS acknowledged the growth of social media has led to an increased need to police and prosecute hate speech online, as speech on online platforms can adversely affect individuals and wider communities of people.

"We should remember that there is a less visible frontline which is easily accessible to those in the United Kingdom who hold extreme views on race, religion, sexuality, gender and even disability", she wrote in The Guardian. That is, the desire to undermine and instil fear in those they target, both individually and collectively.

It's also a call for victims to report any and all forms of hate crime. Of course, different types of offenses have differing consequences and, as online abuse by its nature cannot cause direct physical harm to a victim, it can never be considered or sentenced in the same way.

SC Grants Bail to Shrikant Prasad Purohit in 2008 Malegaon Blast Case
A special MCOCA court had earlier ruled that the Anti-Terrorism Squad had wrongly applied this law against Purohit and 10 others. Purohit, however, said he was there to spy on the group members and had kept his seniors in the loop on all developments.

Saunders claims there are "crucial provisions in law to ensure we do not stifle free speech", but when browsing some of the comments attached to the social media campaign #HateCrimeMatters, it is clear that some critics are concerned the change in policy will impact free speech. Reports of hate crime rose sharply in the aftermath of the European Union referendum. More than one tweeter suggested the change is like being ruled by the thought police.

Rising levels of hate crime in Britain have been highlighted since the European Union referendum last year, with reports soaring in the month after the vote by 41% - equivalent to 5,468 more crimes recorded than on the same month in the previous year. She is right. Hate is hate and crime is crime wherever it is found, just as publishers who facilitate its dissemination online must be as accountable for doing so as if they put ink on paper.

The new policy covers different strands of hate crime: racist and religious; disability; and homophobic, biphobic and transphobic.

The CPS announcement is particularly topical in light of the recent violence in Charlottesville in the USA, and is part of a bigger-picture government push to address hate crime that began last summer.

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