Prosecutors for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are to receive training from Twitter experts in order to tackle abuse and the use of social media to commit violence against women. This is connected to the police’s observations that the internet is increasingly being used by culprits of rape, sexual violence, harassment, stalking, domestic abuse, blackmail, grooming and revenge pornography crimes.
The CPS is currently publishing new guidelines on prosecuting new social media crimes. Jenny Hopkins, the CPS Lead on violence against women and Chief Crown Prosecutor, stated that “social media is increasingly being used as a tool against women and I think it is really positive that Twitter is going to be training our lawyers in the months ahead”. Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, has suggested that, depending on the context, creating numerous fake profiles on social media could be a criminal offence. She stated that “offenders can mistakenly think that, by using false online profiles and creating websites under a false name, their offences are untraceable. Thankfully, this is not the case and an online footprint will be left by the offender”. Saunders also noted that the CPS are seeing more cases of social media being used to commit new and existing offences, particularly against victims who are women and girls. This is the first time it has been acknowledged that offences against women linked to the internet are of concern.
Nick Pickles, head of UK public policy at Twitter, stated that he hoped that people in the UK will be better protected through Twitter working with the CPS to increase prosecutors’ knowledge and understanding of how crimes are committed using social media and digital communication and how they can be tackled by the CPS.