NEW Debate (!) - Online "Hate" Crimes

Jason H

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So, today we see five people have been arrested for making a video mocking the Grenfell Tower fire.

My take on it is that while these people are clearly the embodiment of excrement in human form, I struggle to see what crime has actually been committed - at least while there is no "Don't act like a t***" law in place anyway. As someone else commented elsewhere, the arrests smack of a "We must do something" reaction rather than having any actual basis in law.

(Notwithstanding, of course, an effigy of a living politician was burned in Lewes before huge crowds)

This comes just a few days after a police chief stated that with resources stretched, plod should be devoting their resources to catching criminals rather than sniffing around the Internet looking for a bit of misogyny. Of course, if said online abuse is of a threatening nature, then of course they should get involved.
 

ExeterCityLad

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I saw someone on Twitter (I think a C4 correspondent) claimed it was racist (Somehow), so that's probably why they've been arrested.

Is interesting that crimes like this, like you say, are their priority now - Considering we just had Sadiq on GMB the other day shouting about how police resources are so low and central Gov are to blame for the mass stabbings and murders in London whilst he's employed hundreds to scroll down twitter searching for apparent 'hate crimes'.
 

elginCity

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Yes, difficult to see how a public order offence committed on private property would stand up in court. Unless it could be proved they were complicit in the making of the video and posting it online, which would be deliberately insulting to the families of victims of Grenfell.
 

mfcrocker

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Law and law enforcement was always going to struggle in parts with a social move to online and this is a bit of a symptom of it. As a general rule my feeling is that if you'd get nicked for it in-person you should probably get nicked for doing it online, but there's probably exceptions to that.

I wouldn't personally class this as hate crime but I've also not looked into much detail of the case. I'm pretty happy with where hate speech law is in this country.
 

Terryhall

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Surely this is just a Public Order Offence, under Part 1 of the Public Order Act? 1986 (and amended 1994) Hard to argue that the filming and publication of this video would not qualify as either

(a) Intentional harassment, alarm or distress, or
(b) Harassment, alarm or distress

I would be relatively certain that is the law under which these individuals have been arrested.

For either of these, the defence would need to prove that

(i) the individuals that recorded and published the video were at home and had no reason to believe anyone would see the video outside of their own home (clearly not the case for a public video with modern technology)
or (ii) that the conduct was reasonable (which in my view no self respecting counsel would advise as a defence here)

I think the phrase you are looking for is "bang to rights"
 
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Jason H

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For either of these, the defence would need to prove that

(i) the individuals that recorded and published the video were at home and had no reason to believe anyone would see the video outside of their own home (clearly not the case for a public video with modern technology)
or (ii) that the conduct was reasonable (which in my view no self respecting counsel would advise as a defence here)

I think the phrase you are looking for is "bang to rights"
Er, surely for these it's up to the PROSECUTION to prove the opposite?
 

Terryhall

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Er, surely for these it's up to the PROSECUTION to prove the opposite?
What I mean is that those are the statutory defences - if the defence can evidence that either of those is the case, then there will be no case to answer.

On the assumption that neither statutory defence carries (as set out above), then goes without saying that at trial, the burden of proof will rest with the prosecution (but in the absence of any defence case, it wouldn't be the highest bar to reach)

EDIT - just to add that all the reporting I have seen suggests the arrests are made on suspicion of a public order offence. That does include hate crime (and you could argue the reference to "little ninjas" could qualify as such) but its by no means certain that this is a hate speech arrest (its unlikely the prosecution could prove that saying "little ninjas" was with intent to stir up racial hatred; and so to make that stick would have to aim to prove that racial hatred was likely to be stirred up - which is a harder case to make than the one set out above.)
 
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ExeterCityLad

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A defence lawyer would have a field day on this. I bet the CPS are dreading trying to stand up in court to defend this decision - My gut is they won't even take the case on.
 

Terryhall

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A defence lawyer would have a field day on this. I bet the CPS are dreading trying to stand up in court to defend this decision - My gut is they won't even take the case on.
What would your defence be, out of interest? Would you argue that nobody watches videos outside their home; or would you argue that the conduct was reasonable?
 

LOG

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I saw someone on Twitter (I think a C4 correspondent) claimed it was racist (Somehow), so that's probably why they've been arrested.
I haven't seen the vid and have no intention of finding it but it was said on the wireless this morning that the racist accusation was because there were no white "people" in it. I'd imagine that'll be very difficult to prove to be deliberately racist though.

Perhaps we should just make being a complete moron a criminal offence instead?
 
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