Dunne welcomes new guidance on social media offences

South Shropshire MP Philip Dunne has welcomed new guidance from the Crown Prosecution Service on a range of offences for which social media users could face prosecution.

The guidance will inform decisions to pursue criminal charges. Among the categories of offence in the new guidance are: 

• Communications that may constitute threats of violence to person or property;

• Communications specifically targeting individuals which may constituent harassment, stalking, blackmail or disclosing sexual material without consent; 

• Communications in breach of a court order; and 

• Communications that do not fall into these categories, but can be considered grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false. 

Mr Dunne said: “For the wonderful tool it is, sadly some people feel the need to use the internet to project violence and prejudice into the world. Sometimes these online harassment campaigns can be focused on a single person, as more people are encouraged to take part in a ‘virtual mobbing’. 

The effect on the vulnerable can be profound, and for too long we have tolerated behaviour online that would be heinous if carried out public.

This new guidance gives greater clarity for prosecutors to act against those who break the law, but attempt to hide behind the anonymity of the internet. It will take time, but it is important we act against those who are enabled by the internet to target other people online with malicious intent.”