Britain to treat Internet hate crime as seriously as offline offences

A message in chalk reading "Love not Hate" in St Ann's Square in Manchester, north-west England, on May 25, 2017, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena.
A message in chalk reading "Love not Hate" in St Ann's Square in Manchester, north-west England, on May 25, 2017, placed in tribute to the victims of the May 22 terror attack at the Manchester Arena.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (Reuters) - Online abuse will be treated as seriously as offline offences, Britain's prosecution service said on Monday (Aug 21) in new guidance on handling hate crimes.

The rules - which include guidelines on helping disabled and bisexual victims - are meant to encourage more people to come forward and press courts to impose longer sentences, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

"This is a crime that's under-reported. Sometimes, people feel that they just have to put up with it... That's absolutely not the case," director of public prosecutions Alison Saunders told the BBC.

The new advice is in response to the growth of social media, the CPS said. There have been several high-profile instances of successful prosecutions of people who had abused lawmakers and other public figures online.