New report calls for Police unit to tackle online hate

25 Jun 2015 by CST

A new report written by Andrew Boff, a member of the Conservative Group on the London Assembly, has called for a specialist Police unit to be set up to tackle online hate crime. CST staff are quoted in the report speaking about our experience of antisemitic hate crime online.

The report found that most online hate crime is not reported to the Police and that, when it is, the Police response is inconsistent and often not satisfactory. The report notes the specific nature of online hate crime can have an additional impact on victims:

Being a victim of hate crime is a traumatic experience but when the hate crime is perpetrated online, there are additional consequences.

By using social media to target the victim, the perpetrator is able to abuse the victim in front of a wider, albeit virtual, audience, which can increase the level of humiliation felt by the victim. As a consequence, those hate crimes which once were considered ‘low-level’, for example shouting abuse at a person on the street, now have a much further reaching impact. Furthermore, social media has created a forum where criminals are provided with a veil of anonymity, making it harder to bring them to justice. This creates an impression that one can act online with impunity and has fostered a breeding ground for hate crime.

The report argues that the Police response is currently limited by a lack of resources and expertise, which a new unit could address:

The inconsistent police response to online hate crime is caused primarily by police officers not being sufficiently equipped to tackle it. The current methods used by the police to tackle online hate crime need updating and improving.

The creation of a new unit, whose primary responsibility is to act as the first responder to a report of an online hate crime, is the key to tackling the growing number of offences. This new team of fully-trained IT specialists would carry out initial investigations into instances of online hate crime, develop the crime report into an intelligence package, and send it to the relevant borough-level police officer.

The creation of this unit would ease the increasing burden that is currently being placed on borough police officers to investigate instances of online hate and, as a result, would improve the overall service victims receive while providing the police with an efficient way of determining which of the reports they receive require further investigation.

CST will continue to work with the Police, social media companies and politicians to try to improve the ways in which online hate is tackled.

You can read the full report here.


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