UK holding discussions on social media

10 October 2012
By Rachael Fergusson
Mobile version
Share |
The UK is to issue guidelines on policing social media.

The UK is to issue guidelines on policing social media.

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is holding discussions on laws governing social media, with the aim of publishing guidelines by Christmas, after a flurry of cases concerning inflammatory Twitter and Facebook comments.

Police have expressed concern at the growing number of such cases they are being called on to investigate.

This week alone, two people have been sentenced for social media offences. Teenager Matthew Woods was sentenced on Monday to 12 weeks in prison for offensive jokes on Facebook about missing Welsh five-year-old April Jones. A day later Azhar Ahmed, 20, was given 240 hours of community service after writing "all soldiers should die and go to hell" on Facebook following the death of six British soldiers in Afghanistan.

The CPS has invited academics, media lawyers, bloggers and the police to participate in a month-long discussion.

A CPS spokeswoman said the talks were not primarily aimed at changing current law. "At the moment the idea is to have clear, consistent guidelines across the prosecution of these cases within the existing law", she said.

The Guardian newspaper said the CPS was keen to ask whether social media companies should improve their site moderation.

The police, who have expressed concern over dealing with the growing wave of offences, welcomed the discussions.

"Many offensive comments are made every day on social media and guidance will assist the police to focus on the most serious matters", said Andy Trotter, spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

He added it was not only a matter of principle but "also the practicality of dealing with thousands of potential offences".

However, some say it is common sense rather than official guidelines that is needed for dealing with cases involving social media.

They include barrister John Cooper, who successfully defended a man in July who had been prosecuted for sending a "menacing" message threatening to blow up Doncaster's Robin Hood airport. The court ruled that message had been a joke and dismissed the case.

"The guidelines tend to be so strict that it actually railroads people into prosecuting where normally they wouldn't," he said.

The guidelines removed "discretion and the need and operation of common sense", Cooper added.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1604

"Should the UK's engineers be in or out of Europe? The IET sets out its official position on the EU referendum this week - will you agree?"

->

E&T jobs

  • SAP TEAM MANAGER GENERAL ENQUIRIES

    SSE
    • Melksham, Swindon or Oxford
    • £33,520 TO £44,269 + CAR (SSE7) DEPENDING ON SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

    An exciting opportunity has arisen for an Overhead Tower Line Manager within Power Distribution covering Southern England.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Engineer - Submarine Operability

    BAE Systems
    • Cumbria, England, Barrow-In-Furness
    • Competitive package

    As a Principal Engineer - Operability, you will be using your knowledge of submarine systems operation to influence the way the systems are designed, ensuring the Royal Navy personnel will be able to operate the system effectively

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • OVERHEAD TOWER LINE MANAGER

    SSE
    • Southern England
    • SALARY £42,149 - £62,427 + CAR (SSE9/10) DEPENDANT ON SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

    An exciting opportunity has arisen for an Overhead Tower Line Manager within Power Distribution covering Southern England.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer - Water

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful Water and Environment Unit is recruiting an electrical engineer....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Premium job

    Mott MacDonald
    • Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

    Mott MacDonald's highly successful water business continues to win and deliver a fantastic amount of work....

    • Recruiter: Mott MacDonald

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Programme Manager

    Network Rail
    • England, London
    • £76800 - £86400 per annum

    Do you possess a track record of taking the lead on large projects?

    • Recruiter: Network Rail

    Apply for this job

  • Professor and Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering

    Monash University
    • Australia (AU)

    Shape the future direction of a Department which is currently involved in ground breaking innovative research

    • Recruiter: Monash University

    Apply for this job

  • Rail Engineer

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Burton, Dorking, Glasgow
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Some of the most exciting infrastructure projects in the UK over the coming years are in rail.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Power & HV Engineers

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Glasgow, Gloucester, Plymouth, Warrington
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Frazer-Nash is currently embarking on a period of significant growth of our electrical, electronics, control and instrumentation capability.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Control and Instrumentation Engineers

    Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd
    • Bristol, Burton, Dorchester, Glasgow, Gloucester, Plymouth, Warrington
    • £ Competitive + Benefits

    Frazer-Nash is currently embarking on a period of significant growth of our electrical, electronics, control and instrumentation capability.

    • Recruiter: Frazer-Nash Consultancy Ltd

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T