Pin It
Maisie Williams in Cyberbully (2015)
Maisie Williams in Cyberbully (2015)Courtesy Channel 4

UK police open new department for trolling and online abuse

The ‘Online Hate Crime Hub’ wants to hunt down your haters

The Metropolitan police have announced plans to set up a special “troll-hunting” unit, which will be dedicated exclusively to tackling online abuse and hate crimes.

The £1.7m initiative – known as the ‘Online Hate Crime Hub’ – will reportedly provide technology training to UK police in an attempt to identify trolls. It will also offer support services to victims who have been affected by cyber abuse.

Currently set up at Scotland Yard, the five-officer unit was introduced after a consultation on crime reduction at the London mayor’s office for policing and crime (Mopac). According to its findings, online abuse is seriously affecting individuals and communities; causing people to feel “isolated”, and “living in fear of the online behaviour materialising in the real world”.

How a team of just five people will be able to effectively take on the entire Internet is unclear, but the force seems faithful. “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,” explained a Met spokesperson. “The Metropolitan police service is committed to working with our partners, including the mayor, to tackle all types of hate crime including offences committed online. By establishing this unit, we are sending a strong message to those who use online forums to spread hate that their actions will not be tolerated.”

The initiative comes months after the launch of ‘Reclaim The Internet’; a government campaign dedicated to tackling misogynistic trolling. It was sparked after research revealed that nearly half of women were experiencing online abuse on social media, with aggressive use of the word “slut” and “whore” on the increase. Another Australian study from March this year found that trolling had now become an “established norm” in the digital society.

“The Metropolitan police service continues to have a zero-tolerance approach to all forms of hate crime,” the Met spokesperson added. “The Met encourages all victims of hate crime to report any incident to the police and will make every effort to hold offenders to account and bring them to justice.”