New platform to fight hate crime – Online Hate Crime Hub
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday August 08 2017
In April this year, London Mayor Sadiq Khan launched the Online Hate Crime Hub, a new police unit that is focused on tackling online abuses and offering support for the victims.
The Evening Standard gained access to the Online Hate Crime Hub to find out what progress is being made, and to talk to the ones involved.
Detective Sergeant Chris Rhodes explained some of the motives behind the unit’s conception.
He said: “Our recent political and societal context has led to an increase in online hate crimes, especially targeting the Muslim community.”
“Every time there is a terrorist atrocity, we record a peak in hate crimes reported,” he added.
The number of victims of religious and racist hate crime has risen almost 20 per cent in the last year alone. In the same period, the number of disability hate crime victims increased by 216 per cent.
“A crime is classified as a hate crime if it is perceived as an attack motivated by somebody’s race, disability, sexuality, colour or religion”, explains Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime.
“The unit is a proof of concept. It is not a pilot because pilots are variably successful. We have already learnt quite a lot”, says Detective Inspector John Donovan, project lead for the hub.
DS Rhodes explained: “What we have discovered so far is how time-consuming and complex these investigations are.”
The unit is particularly useful when perpetrators are anonymous. Liaising with social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook, the inspectors seek information about the perpetrators, such as an IP address, as well as a date and a time stamp.
They will then use this information and trace it back to a physical address.
“The amount of anonymity that you enjoy is much less than people expect”, said DI Donovan.
However, time has been an issue. The most time-consuming part is to constitute the file referencing all the different occurrences of abuses and submitting it to the Crown Prosecution Service in hope that it will lead to a prosecution.
“One of our early findings is that, once the abuses are taken down, most victims lose interest and don’t wish to progress with the prosecution. They don’t want to go to court, they don’t want to face their abuser.” said DI Donovan.
“Even if taking the abuse down is a result for the victims, which is our priority, this is something we will have to work on because it probably isn’t best for society if serial offenders continuously get away with their crimes.”
“The high profile abusers that we dealt with were for the most part articulate, which makes them even more dangerous. The more articulate they are the more insulting they can be”, he said.
The project will run for another eight months. The unit’s efficiency will then be assessed before a decision is made on its future.