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Social media hate crime to be treated same as offline offenses

People protest against Islamophobia and Daesh a day after a van crashed into pedestrians at Las Ramblas in Barcelona. The UK government is now cracking down on hate crime on social media. (Reuters)
LONDON: Hate crime committed in the UK via social media will be treated the same as offenses committed offline, according to new guidelines set out by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
The revised guidance will cover all strands of online hate crime, and comes in response to the rising volume of hate crime reported to the police, and after consultation with community groups about the changing nature of this type of offense.
In 2015-16, the CPS completed 15,442 hate crime prosecutions, the highest number recorded to date.
The conviction rate across all forms of hate crime rose from 82.9 percent in 2014-15 to 83.2 percent in 2015-16, according to CPS statistics.
“Hate crime has a corrosive effect on our society, and that is why it is a priority area for the CPS. It can affect entire communities, forcing people to change their way of life and live in fear,” said Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions.
“These documents take account of the current breadth and context of offending to provide prosecutors with the best possible chance of achieving justice for victims. They also let victims and witnesses know what they should expect from us.”
Alongside the release of these guidelines, the CPS has launched a social media campaign — #HateCrimeMatters — as part of an effort to encourage people to report hate crime incidents.
A hate crime is defined as an offense motivated by hostility, or that shows hostility, toward the victim’s disability, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.