‘One stop shop’ to help on­line abuse vic­tims

The Sunday Telegraph - - Front page - By Christo­pher Hope CHIEF PO­LIT­I­CAL COR­RE­SPON­DENT

PO­LICE of­fi­cers will help vic­tims of on­line hate crime to pres­sure Twit­ter and Face­book to take down abu­sive mes­sages, Am­ber Rudd has said.

The Home Sec­re­tary pledged to es­tab­lish an on­line hub that will al­low in­ter­net users to lodge all re­ports of hate crime to drive up num­bers of pros­e­cu­tions.

Po­lice will then help vic­tims to re­fer “ap­pro­pri­ate cases to on­line plat­forms host­ing ex­ter­nal con­tent, such as so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies, so that hate­ful ma­te­rial can be re­moved”, the Home Of­fice has said. Twit­ter and Face­book have been un­der fire for not do­ing enough to deal with so-called trolls who send abu­sive mes­sages to mem­bers of the pub­lic.

This “one stop shop” for re­port­ing on­line abuse will be run by po­lice of­fi­cers for the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil who will work to en­sure on­line

cases are man­aged ef­fi­ciently. Ms Rudd said: “With the po­lice, we will use this new in­tel­li­gence to adapt our re­sponse so that even more vic­tims are safe­guarded and per­pe­tra­tors pun­ished.

“On­line hate crime is com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. What is il­le­gal off­line is il­le­gal on­line, and those who com­mit th­ese cow­ardly crimes should be met with the full force of the law.

“The na­tional on­line hate crime hub that we are fund­ing is an im­por­tant step to en­sure more vic­tims have the con­fi­dence to come for­ward and re­port the vile abuse to which they are be­ing sub­jected.

“The hub will also im­prove our un­der­stand­ing of the scale and na­ture of this de­spi­ca­ble form of abuse.”

The new hub will al­low vic­tims to see which po­lice force is re­spon­si­ble for their case, re­mov­ing any un­cer­tainty when vic­tims and per­pe­tra­tors are in dif­fer­ent parts of the UK.

Spe­cial­ist of­fi­cers will pro­vide ex­pert case man­age­ment and bet­ter sup­port and ad­vice to vic­tims of on­line hate crime.

The hub will en­sure all on­line cases are prop­erly in­ves­ti­gated and will help to in­crease pros­e­cu­tions, the Home Of­fice said. Vic­tims will be kept up­dated through­out, as po­lice forces seek to bring per­pe­tra­tors to jus­tice, of­fi­cials said.

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Mark Hamilton, the hate crimes lead at the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil, said: “Hate­ful abuse on­line can leave vic­tims with sig­nif­i­cant psy­cho­log­i­cal harm, but can also lead to more se­ri­ous phys­i­cal of­fences, so po­lice need to be able to in­ter­vene at the ear­li­est pos­si­ble stage to re­as­sure vic­tims that we will act to pro­tect them.

“This new na­tional hub will en­able a small team of spe­cial­ist of­fi­cers to sig­nif­i­cantly im­prove the ser­vice we pro­vide to vic­tims, re­duce the bur­den on front-line of­fi­cers, and help bring more of­fend­ers to jus­tice.

“We recog­nise and will up­hold the right to free speech even where it causes of­fence – but this does not ex­tend to in­cit­ing ha­tred or threat­en­ing peo­ple.”

It fol­lows pro­pos­als an­nounced by the Tories last week for in­ter­net com­pa­nies to be forced to hand over the con­tact de­tails of on­line trolls who anony­mously abuse MPs.

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