PO­LICE SET TO HUNT TROLLS

Team will of­fer on­line se­cu­rity

Daily Star Sunday - - NEWS - ■ by FELIC­ITY CROSS felic­ity.cross@dai­lystar.co.uk

A NEW po­lice team will pa­trol the in­ter­net in an ef­fort to track down hate crime “trolls”.

The mea­sure, an­nounced by Home Sec­re­tary Am­ber Rudd, in­set, is de­signed to im­prove sup­port for vic­tims and drive up pros­e­cu­tions.

The plan is aimed at tar­get­ing of­fend­ers re­spon­si­ble for abus­ing other in­ter­net users based on their race, reli­gion, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, dis­abil­ity or trans­gen­der iden­tity.

Run by a small team of spe­cial­ist of­fi­cers, the hub’s ac­tiv­i­ties will in­clude assess­ing whether cir­cum­stances of a com­plaint amount to a crime or a non-crime, com­bin­ing du­pli­cate re­ports and seek­ing to iden­tify per­pe­tra­tors.

Where ap­pro­pri­ate, it will make re­fer­rals to on­line plat­forms, like Face­book or Twit­ter, so that hate­ful ma­te­rial can be re­moved.

Groups mon­i­tor­ing an­tiSemitic and Is­lam­o­pho­bic abuse re­port that a sig­nif­i­cant pro­por­tion of in­ci­dents in­volve the in­ter­net and so­cial me­dia plat­forms are in the spot­light over their re­sponse to the prob­lem.

Ms Rudd said: “On­line hate crime is un­ac­cept­able. What is il­le­gal off­line is il­le­gal on­line and those who com­mit these cow­ardly crimes will be met with the full force of the law.

“The na­tional on­line hate crime hub that we are fund­ing is an im­por­tant step to en­sur­ing vic­tims can re­port the vile abuse to which they are be­ing sub­jected.” Of­fi­cials said the hub’s pri­mary aim is to im­prove the po­lice re­sponse to the prob­lem of hate crime on­line. Fol­low­ing re­fer­ral to the na­tional hub via True Vi­sion, a po­lice re­port­ing web­site, in­di­vid­ual com­plaints will be as­sessed and rel­e­vant cases as­signed to the ap­pro­pri­ate lo­cal force for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil lead for hate crime, Mark Hamil­ton, said: “Whether on­line or in per­son, no­body should have to live with threats and ha­tred.”

The hub is ex­pected to be op­er­a­tional be­fore the end of the year.

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