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BizReport : Trends & Ideas archives : March 04, 2016

Prosecution changes afoot in UK to deal with online harassment

Twitter is to train prosecutors in England and Wales how to deal with online harassment and abuse with the ultimate aim of helping victims of domestic and sexual violence.

by Helen Leggatt

As criminals move online to perpetuate crimes such as stalking, harassment and other forms of abuse, so members of the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK need to confront such issues.

Last year alone, the number of revenge porn cases in the UK rose to the highest levels ever. The CPS also identified in the Violence against Women and Girls Annual Report 2014-15 (VaWG) that cyber-enabled crime was becoming more prominent within cases and social media was being used to target victims and to facilitate existing crimes such as blackmail, grooming, harassment and stalking.

With this in mind, Twitter will begin training prosecutors to give them an in-depth understanding of the issues and to ensure that "the evolution of the legal framework put in place to protect UK citizens better captures the rapid development of digital communications platforms, and where necessary, online as well as offline behavior".

Meanwhile, a six week consultation has begun in the UK by the Crown Prosecution Service, which could see those who use fake online profiles to enable them to abuse others face stiffer penalties.

"It is vital that prosecutors consider the bigger picture when looking at evidence and examine both the online and offline behavior pattern of the defendant," said director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders. "Online abuse is cowardly and can be deeply upsetting to the victim."

Image via Shutterstock

Tags: harassment, law, online abuse, U.K.

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