UK looks to limit free speech of social media users

A new team of specialist police officers is being set up to investigate online so-called online hate crime on Twitter and Facebook.

The London-based hub will include a team of five officers who will support victims and identify online abuse.

The two-year pilot will cost £1.7m and has received £452,000 from the Home Office, the London Mayor’s office said.

A spokesman said there was “no place for hate” in London and there would be a “zero tolerance” of online abuse.

The team, which will be set up in the coming months, will identify the location of crimes and allocate them to the appropriate force. They will work with a team of volunteers.

The Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime (Mopac) said 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”.

Victims can become “isolated, living in fear of the online behaviour materialising in the real world”, it said, adding that the general police response to online hate crime was “inconsistent”.

The team will also assist in training police officers and community groups in how to identify, report and challenge abuse.

A Mopac spokesperson said it was the first time a “dedicated police team” had been set up to detect and respond to hate crimes.

“Community groups in London have told us that online hate crime is an issue of increasing concern to them, and one for which the police response has in the past been inconsistent,” the spokesman added.

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