Online hate 'as serious as face-to-face'

Posted on 21 August 2017

Today the Crown Prosecution Service pledges to treat online hate crimes as seriously as those committed face to face.

Today the CPS published new guidance on how it will prosecute hate crime. In recognition of the growth of hate crime perpetrated using social media, the guidance includes a commitment to treat online crime as seriously as offline offences, while taking into account the potential impact on the wider community as well as the victim.

Writing in the Guardian, Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions, said

“Whether shouted or tweeted, prejudice devastates lives. That’s why prosecutors are committed to taking internet hate crimes as seriously as face to face ones.”

The CPS is marking the publication of the documents with the launch of a social media campaign - #HateCrimeMatters - to encourage people to come forward and report hate crime incidents.

Young peoples’ experiences of online hate

Last year, the UK Safer Internet Centre published a report into children’s experiences of online hate for Safer Internet Day 2016. This found that the majority of young people had seen something hateful on the internet in the last year.

More than four in five (82%) young people said they had witnessed online hate, having seen or heard offensive, mean or threatening behaviour targeted at or about someone based on their race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

More worryingly, almost a quarter (24%) reported to have been the target of online hate themselves in the last year because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender or transgender identity.

The report also found that 94% of young people believe no one should be targeted with online hate, while 93% have seen their friends posting things online that are supportive, kind or positive about a certain group in the last year, for example, girls, LGBT people, disabled people, or those of a certain race or religion.

To help schools and others encourage young people to report online hate and to champion kindness and respect for all online, the UK Safer Internet Centre published free educational resources and a series of films, which are still available online. 

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