On-line Hate Crimes are finally to be taken as seriously as Face-to-Face abuse.
The Crown Prosecution Service has announced today that individuals who have been subject to on-line hate crimes can have confidence in knowing that, should they report the abuse, they can expect the same level of robust pursuit of the perpetrator as if they had been confronted face-to-face.
On-line hate crime is reported to be rising, frequently spiking following the episodes of terror attacks. In light of this trend the Crown Prosecution Service has revised its guidance to criminal prosecutors. The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, indicated that the new on-line hate crime guidelines will follow the same approach to that which is applied to off-line offences.
All the different strands of hate-crime, racist, disability, religious, homophobic, biphobic and transphobic, have the same corrosive effect on their victims and have nothing to do with freedom of speech, which some social media platforms use as a defence when they fail to deal with such abuse. Hate crime is a daily reality for many people and often the anonymous on-line vitriol is far greater than that delivered face-to-face. Many individuals hide behind social media platforms believing that they are safe to abuse at long distance without risking any consequences but that is about to change.
Social media platforms must address their role in this ever growing crime, it is not only the originators but those who disseminate and facilitate the spread the hatred should also be included in the new drive to stamp out hate crime. In 2015-16, 15,442 prosecutions for hate crime were pursued - a record number. The internet has become the perfect playground for individuals to vent their malice.
Many organisations have welcomed today's announcement including, Tell Mama which monitors Islamophobia, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and Stonewall on behalf of the LGBT community.
The message must be clear no victim should suffer in silence and no perpetrator should get away with such a despicable crime.
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