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Self-regulation of the net receives police endorsement

On-going, coordinated efforts by social media and internet users to monitor and clamp down on abusive or intimidating communications over the web have received positive support from the police.

Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, whose remit with the association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) centres on the prevention of internet crime, says that members of the online community who spot and report extreme anti-social activity on the net are to be encouraged and commended for getting involved, since the police simply does not have the manpower to take action in these areas. He commented:

“There is no Facebook squad or Twitter squad. We are not actively going out to catch people who have made inappropriate comments.

“We’re not there to hunt people down…but where allegations are made we can and do investigate.”

Likewise, ACPO’s main operations representative in the area of social media analysis, Deputy Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie, said that whilst high priority crimes such as sexual grooming are allotted specific resources, the police rely heavily on the public to identify the bulk of malicious online activity. He added:

“If you come across somebody behaving irresponsibly the onus is on you to do something about that if you care about that space.”

Meanwhile, ACPO says that existing legislation, most notably the Malicious Communications Act 1988, the Communications Act 2003, and the Public Order Act 1986, is sufficient to tackle the type of activities characteristic of internet trolls and other vehemently anti-social web users; and that further legislation is not needed.

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