Home Secretary Amber Rudd has announced a new national hub designed to tackle the emerging threat of online hate crime. The Government’s latest counter-terrorism move will ensure better support for victims and help in driving up the number of prosecutions. Run by police officers for the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the hub will work to ensure online cases are managed both effectively and efficiently.
In addition, the hub will clearly set out the force responsible for further action in each case, subsequently removing any uncertainty which could arise when, for example, a victim is located in one area with the alleged perpetrator in another.
Specialist police officers will provide expert case management and better support and advice to victims of online hate crime. The hub will ensure that all online cases are properly investigated and help to increase prosecutions for online hate crimes.
“Online hate crime is completely unacceptable,” urged Rudd. “What’s illegal offline is illegal online. Those who commit these cowardly crimes should be met with the full force of the law. The national online hate crime hub that we’re funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they’re being subjected. The hub will also improve our understanding of the scale and nature of this despicable form of abuse. Alongside the police service, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response such that even more victims are safeguarded and more of the 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 designed for the reporting of hate crime, individual complaints will be assessed and relevant cases assigned to the appropriate local force for detailed 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.
The national online hate crime hub will:
*assess whether the circumstances relate to a crime or non-crime incident
*combine duplicate reports
*seek to identify the perpetrator(s)
*refer appropriate cases to online platforms hosting external content, such as social media companies, such that any hateful material can be removed
*feed any intelligence into the wider National Intelligence Model – the police database which gathers intelligence on a wide range of crimes – in order to guide policing strategies and inform forces’ priorities
*produce an evidence package for local recording and response where there’s a positive line of enquiry
*update the complainant with progress and explain where there’s no enforcement action possible
*advise local police colleagues on effective responses (the hub could serve to develop and drive Best Practice through the network of hate crime leads in individual forces)
The expectation is that the new online hub will be operational before the end of the year.