The failure to bring justice to social media racists is exposed by new figures that show reports to police doubled in two year’s time, but only a fraction lead to arrest or charges.
Campaigners assert that racism is now in full swing “freedom of hatred”Facebook and not face any consequences.
According to new figures, 23 police forces from England and Wales received 1,394 racist allegations relating to social networks last year.
This represents a 144% increase on the 572 reported to the same forces in 2018 and 799 in 2019.
However, data obtained under Freedom of Information Act revealed that very few lead to prosecutions. The Met Police only charged two people in that time period.
Labour’s Diane Abbott stated to The Mirror that he had “no confidence”Racist content will be dealt with.
Marvin Sordell, an ex-footballer in the Premier League, decided to retire from the game when he was just 28. He said that he had suffered abuse. “It’s pretty clear to see that people can make whatever comments they want because they know that the likelihood of them being a) found and b) charged are very rare.”
Are you a victim of social media racism? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Weyman Bennett, joint chief of Stand Up To Racism as well as joint secretary of Unite Against Fascism (UAF), said: “The police don’t take seriously the racist acts organised on social media, they don’t see it as an incubation of hate.”
However, police chiefs state that they are not able to identify racists because platforms do not provide the necessary details.
Following the torrential abuse directed at three England football players following the Euro 2020 final which saw 11 arrests, social media companies are in the spotlight.
After the defeat to Italy at Wembley in June, Marcus Rashford was targeted. Jadon Sancho, Bukayo Saka and Bukayo Saka also were targets.
The Premier League and other football clubs had staged a boycott earlier this year, demanding “real life consequences”Online discriminatory abuse
According to the Freedom of Information Act, however, the numbers of arrests and charges between 2018-2020 are low.
The Mirror asked all 43 police forces to provide information about the number and nature of racist claims made on social media in the last three years.
Many claim that they did not keep this information in a retrievable format. This is partly why complaints about such data are not being addressed consistently between different forces.
These are some of the most important findings.
- The UK’s largest force, the Met Police received 208 complaints about alleged racism on social networks between 2018-2020, but only two were prosecuted.
- Surrey Police arrested 16 people and brought forth four charges against them after receiving 242 complaints during the same period.
- West Mercia Police received 186 complaints and made five arrests within three years.
- The most number of forces responding to The Mirror’s Freedom of Information Act Request was West Yorkshire Police, which recorded 538 social media links in just three years. There were nine charges and 44 arrests made.
- Despite receiving 84 allegations, Dyfed Powys Police of Wales didn’t make a single arrest.
- Leicestershire Police received 112 reports between 2018-2020, making one arrest as well as two charges.
- The lowest number of reported incidents by the Cambridgeshire Police was 29 over three years. This resulted in only one arrest and one conviction.
- After receiving 61 accusations of racism on social media over three years, the Lincolnshire Police made seven arrests as well as three charges.
- Four people were arrested by the Nottinghamshire Police after 161 complaints of online racism within four years.
Many forces claimed that they had reached “community resolutions”Sometimes, people are charged rather than being charged.
Bennett stated that he wasn’t surprised at the low number of arrests.
He stated that social media companies are able to spot locations from which racist messages and posts are being sent, but they often fail to act.
“The vast majority are traceable,”He said. “Tracing them all isn’t easy, but I’d suggest that what’s going on shows this isn’t a priority.
“Racism and hate are unacceptable and can be committed to criminal charges if they are allowed to spread in public.”
The anti-racism campaigner added: “While many racists may not feel confident marching on the streets, they are confident using cyberspace. While enforcement doesn’t restrict freedom of speech or hate speech, it does limit freedom of expression.”
Mr Bennett said he has reported racist messages to police in the past, but added: “”The only time I feel like there will be action is when they tell me there will be a demonstration.
Sarbjit Dhalu (Stand Up to Racism) said that the copious amount of hateful abuse received by the organization means that very little information is reported to police.
She stated: “If someone racially abused you on the street and called you the N-word or the P-word that would be seen as a racist attack, but we don’t feel like we’re getting the same level of protection online.
“We’ll report any threat of death or rape to the police. However, we get so many we can’t keep track of them all. We block people.
“They (social media companies) have the software to prevent such messages being sent in the first place.”
Ms. Dhalu claimed that both individual racists as well as organisations are growing more. “emboldened”Because of lack of action.
More than 60% of complaints are filed between Facebook and Instagram.
Twenty forces provided an overview of the sites that received the most complaints. There were 1,232 reports related to racism on Facebook, and 375 on Instagram.
For comparison, there are 99 complaints filed to the same forces regarding alleged offences on Twitter while 268 relate to Snapchat.
According to the National Police Chiefs Council, work is being done to combat online hatred. However, it stressed that networks must cooperate.
A spokesperson said: “Anonymous accounts that cannot be traced through traditional investigation methods puts greater responsibility on the shoulders of social media companies to hand over the IP address for those who post illegal and harmful material.
“Although this would allow authorities to request subscriber information, most platforms won’t be able to do so without a court order. This is because many host countries don’t have the ability to do it.
“We fully investigate all cases brought to us. Ultimately, we need to prove guilt using evidence, and this is then decided in court after police have successfully received a charging decision from the CPS. We offer our support to all victims and can make referrals to support services where appropriate.”
National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Hate Crime, Deputy Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, said: “Online hatred can cause significant distress and can increase community tensions.
“Police ensures that victims of crime, whether online or offline, are taken seriously, supported and receive a full and impartial investigation.
“Reports of online abuse and social media offences are increasing and we have improved training for our officers. We have specialists from many third sector organisations on hand to offer advice and support on a daily basis to keep people safe, and feeling safe, despite the worrying nature of these offences.”
Met Police stated in a statement that it does not tolerate discrimination. It is committed to prosecuting anyone who has evidence that exceeds the evidential threshold. It can be difficult to investigate crimes committed online due to relative anonymity.
“We often require the cooperation of social media and other platform providers to successfully pursue these suspects successfully.”
According to the force’s assertion, hate crimes against racially-aggravated minorities had risen both online and offline during the pandemic.
It went on: “Where any allegation of hate crime is made to the police, we will launch a proportionate investigation. In some cases there may be a lack of evidence to support a prosecution and a case will be closed when all investigative opportunities have been exhausted.”
After pleading guilty in October to sending a message through the internet that was grossly inappropriate or of an indecent or obscene character, Bradford Pretty from Kent was sentenced to a suspended prison sentence.
In a video posted immediately after the match, he used racial terms against black footballers.
The Mirror asked Facebook a series of questions. It wanted to know how many racism complaints it had received and how often it provided details to police.
According to the network’s statement, they are proactive and have removed more than 33,000,000 pieces of hate speech content before they were reported. They also claim incidents have decreased slightly in the first three-months of the year.
It claims it responds to “valid legal requests for information”from police and is working with chiefs of police to improve cooperation.
A spokesperson stated: “No one should have to experience racist abuse anywhere, and we don’t want it on Facebook or Instagram. We share the goal of holding people who share this content to account and we do this by taking action on content and accounts that break our rules and working with the police.
“We respond to valid legal requests for information as quickly as possible, and are confident that the information we provide is helpful to police investigations.
“We also encourage people to turn on Hidden Words, a tool which means no one has to see abuse in their comments or DMs. No one thing will fix this challenge overnight, but we’re committed to keeping our community safe from abuse.”
Twitter spokesperson stated that they don’t tolerate abuse or harassment on the part of people because of their race, ethnicity or national origin, sexual orientation or gender, gender identity or gender gender, age, caste or disability.
According to the social media giant, it will remove content that violates its rules. This includes dehumanizing language and hateful imagery.
Twitter has established rules to deal with threats of violence, abuse, and harassment. It emphasizes that it will take action if it discovers accounts that violate these rules.
The spokesperson said that technology alone will not solve the problem so they collaborate with other organizations to combat racism and meet regularly with the Met Police.
Anyone can report violations here https://help.twitter.com/en/forms/law-enforcement