The Metropolitan Police in London will be introducing a new unit to handle online hate crimes. The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) has published some details about this unit. In total, it will cost £1.7 million, or about $2.2 million. The unit will have just five officers, but community volunteers will also be recruited to assist.
MOPAC describes the purpose of this unit by stating, “Social media provides hate crime perpetrators with a veil of anonymity, making it harder to bring them to justice and potentially impacting on a larger number of people. Those targeted can become isolated, living in fear of the online behavior materializing in the real world. The police response to online hate crime is inconsistent, primarily because police officers are not equipped to tackle it. The purpose of this program is to strengthen the police and community response to this growing crime type.”
Described as an online hate crime hub, the program is said to have four main elements. The first element is a dedicated police team which is responsible for identifying online hate crimes and tracking down their locations so that they can be referred to whichever police force has jurisdiction. The second element is training for police and community organizations in the use of online tools to combat hate crimes. This training will be delivered in partnership with social media companies.
The third element is supporting community volunteers in their efforts to identify and report “hate material” as well as creating pathways to refer victims to support services. The fourth element is building an intelligence base through the use of data analytics. This will allow, “predictive policing methods to enable crime prevention.” MOPAC lists several benefits it claims the program will bring, including closer relationships between police and the community as well as bringing more criminals to justice.
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