UK to crack down on internet bullies

Detectives will start sending messages to cyber bullies using the social networking site, warning them they are breaking the law and could face prosecution.

Their parents will also be sent a letter alerting them to the fact that their child is an online bully and what the consequences of their actions could be.

It is hoped that informing the internet tormentors of the seriousness of their actions at an early stage will stop them from using the web to harrass others and keep them from entering the criminal justice system.

The trial in the Thames Valley, which will be the first of its kind, will see police joining forces with teenage volunteers to help press the delete button on school-aged Facebook bullies harrassing fellow students.

Police constable Dave Thomas came up with the scheme, which will be trialled from Monday.

“By sending a police warning notice on Facebook, students will be made aware they could be prosecuted,” he said.

“By alerting their parents to the problem, we are aiming to nip the problem in the bud and prevent it becoming something more serious.

“Social networkers, whatever their age, often don’t think about what they are writing in the same way they would think about what they write in a letter or an email.

“If we have to investigate Facebook messages as harassment or public order offences and the young person gets charged, it could seriously affect their future.

“While we want them to realise how serious the matter is, we also want to avoid that and keep young people out of the criminal justice system if possible.”

Under the scheme, Pc Thomas will work with young volunteers to investigate and deal with reports of bullying or harassment on Facebook.

Once a cyber bullying issue on Facebook is flagged by a school or parent to an officer, Pc Thomas and his team will investigate what has been written.

If it is deemed inappropriate, they will send the bully a message warning them if they continue they could be breaking the law.

The initiative will start in Reading, Berks., and if enough people “like” the idea, it could be rolled out across the South East from May.

 

 

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