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Camden police to launch crackdown on internet ‘trolls’

08:00 23 May 2014

Ch Supt Ben-Julian "BJ" Harrington. Picture: Polly Hancock

Ch Supt Ben-Julian "BJ" Harrington. Picture: Polly Hancock

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Every Camden police officer is to be trained in tackling online abuse – because senior crime chiefs believe internet “trolling” is equal to making threats on the street or in a bar.

Officers across the borough are to be tutored in handling abuse on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook during lessons starting in July.

Camden’s Borough Commander, Ch Supt Ben-Julian Harrington, told the Ham&High that he has decided to make these “lower rent cyber crimes” a priority over the next year.

“Twitter abuse is going to be a real focus,” he said. “If I walked into a pub and started shouting abuse at you and kept doing it, you would expect cops to turn up.

“Making threats to someone on Twitter is just like making threats to someone walking along the street. If they keep doing it then that’s a crime and we’ll tackle it.”

The pledge comes four months after two people were jailed for abusing Camden-based journalist and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez over Twitter, in one of the most high-profile cases of what is often called “trolling”.

It was initially investigated by officers in Camden and led to a man and a woman from the north east of England receiving jail terms of eight and 12 weeks in January.

Both had bombarded Ms Criado-Perez with abusive comments over her campaign for a woman to appear on bank notes.

The police training should equip Camden’s police with key technical skills, including the ability to record online posts that can be deleted.

It will also help officers to recognise when internet messages become criminal and warrant police intervention.

Ch Supt Harrington said cases of children sending abusive posts to each other are likely to be the 
responsibilty of schools.

He said: “I want my officers to be just as confident at recognising crimes in the cyber world.”

Police said there were just over 200 crime reports in Camden relating to Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites in each of the past two financial years, though the figures are provisional.

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