Hardyal Dhindsa, PCC for Derbyshire, who leads on hate crime on behalf of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, has welcomed news that prosecutors will be ordered to treat online hate crime as seriously as offences carried out face to face.
New statements and guidance published this week by the director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, means that the Crown Prosecution Service will seek stiffer penalties for online crime to ensure that hate crimes committed online are treated as seriously as those perpetrated offline.
“Abuse is abuse – wherever it takes place,” the Commissioner said today. “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 totally unacceptable.”