News that online hate crime is to be treated with more severity by prosecutors has been met with approval by a police tsar.
Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Hardyal Dhindsa, who holds the national portfolio for hate crime on behalf of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, has welcomed the move to prosecute online hate crime as seriously as offences carried out face to face.
Plans announced by the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, will see the Crown Prosecution Service seeking stiffer penalties for abuse on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms.
The commissioner said: “Abuse is abuse - wherever it takes place. “It’s unpleasant, scary, intolerant and most of all illegal.
“Too many people seem to think that abusing someone on social media is not as serious as face to face offences. Many also appear to think that the cyberspace provides some sort of protective barrier against prosecution. They are wrong on both counts.
“This announcement makes it clear that those who use social media platforms to harass, frighten, abuse or torment others will be held to account for their behaviour and I applaud this decision.”
Hate crime is considered to be under-reported, something the commissioner wishes to change.
He added: “I’m confident that anyone reporting hate crime to the police will be treated with sensitivity. Reporting hate crime will ensure that the police can act and help the scale of the problem to be gauged.
“The rise in extremist activity is, I believe, aided by the hatred found online. We have to make it clear that people will face serious consequences if they are caught. We have to make it clear that hatred, in any form, is unacceptable.”