United Kingdom to treat online hate crimes as seriously as offline abuse

Hate crimes: Fresh guidance on online offences

Crackdown on 'corrosive' online hate crimes launched by Crown Prosecution Service in Britain

"But we must remember the common thread that links online purveyors of hate with those who commit physical hate crimes".

People convicted of online hate crimes are set to receive the same punishments as in-person offenses, under new plans announced by United Kingdom authorities today. "They also let victims and witnesses know what they should expect from us". She claims a crackdown is needed because online abuse can lead to extremist hate like that seen in Charlottesville, which saw at least one counter-protester lose her life.

Scotland's criminal prosecution service, the Crown Office, put similar guidelines in effect in December 2014.

Alison Saunders told Paul Ross people can have "distasteful" opinions, but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will get involved if it becomes "grossly offensive".

She said: "Left unchallenged, even low-level offending can subsequently fuel the kind of risky hostility that has been plastered across our media in recent days".

CPS defined a hate crime as "an offense where the perpetrator is motivated by hostility or shows hostility towards the victim's disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or transgender identity".

"The threshold for prosecuting online hate crime is very high, and the investigative process is often too slow and cumbersome to respond to the fast-moving online world", she said.

"Whether shouted in their face on the street, daubed on their wall or tweeted into their living room, the impact of hateful abuse on a victim can be equally devastating", Saunders said.

Nik Noone, chief executive of Galop, a charity that campaigns against anti-LGBT violence and hate crime, said its own research suggested many victims did not have confidence in the police to report online hate attacks.

But following these spikes the CPS consulted community groups and criminal justice partners to produce revised statements on hate crime. These guidelines, including prosecution advice for hate crimes, are updated regularly. Nevertheless, hate crime is reportedly on the rise even though it is believed that many victims do not come forward.

The CPS announcement is particularly topical in light of the recent violence in Charlottesville in the United States, and is part of a bigger-picture government push to address hate crime that began last summer.

CPS hopes more victims of online hate crime will be encouraged to come forward now that prosecutors will press courts to impose harsher sentences.

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