Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a new national hub to tackle the emerging threat of online hate crime. It will ensure better support for victims and help drive up the number of prosecutions.
The hub, run by police officers for the National Police Chiefs Council, will work to ensure online cases are managed effectively and efficiently.
It will clearly set out the force responsible for further action in each case, removing any uncertainty which could arise when, for example, a victim is located in one area, with the alleged perpetrator in another.
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 for online hate crimes.
The Home Secretary said:
“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. With the police, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response so that even more victims are safeguarded and perpetrators punished.”
The hub’s primary aim is to improve the police response to the problem of hate crime online. Following referral to the national hub via Truevision, the police website to report hate crime, individual complaints will be assessed, and relevant cases will be assigned to the appropriate local force for investigation. As such the hub will streamline and simplify current processes, avoid duplication, make full use of expertise and reduce the burden of online hate crime investigation on local forces.
Victims will be kept updated throughout, as police forces seek to bring perpetrators to justice.
National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton said:
“Whether online or in person, nobody should have to live with threats and hatred because of who they are. 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 frontline 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.
“Nobody should suffer in silence and we continue to urge people to come forward and report hateful abuse to police so that we can act to safeguard victims and investigate the perpetrators.”
The national online hate crime hub will:
- Assess whether the circumstances related to a crime or non-crime incident;
- Combine duplicate reports;
- Seek to identify the perpetrator;
- Refer appropriate cases to online platforms hosting external content, such as social media companies, so that hateful material can be removed;
- Feed any intelligence into the wider National Intelligence Model, the police data base which gathers intelligence on a wide range of crimes, to guide policing strategies and inform forces’ priorities;
- Produce an evidence package for local recording and response where there is a positive line of enquiry;
- Update the complainant with progress and explain where there is no enforcement action possible; and
- Advise local police colleagues on effective responses. The hub could develop and drive best practice through the network of hate crime leads in individual forces.
It is expected to be operational before the end of the year.
If you are a victim of hate crime you can report it on Truevision www.report-it.org.uk/ Truevision is the website that has been developed so that everyone can report hate crimes online.
Adam Murcutt, Home Office