In Your Defence Ltd – We often defend at the police stations in cases where abuse is alleged.

To combat the supposed increase of online abuse cases the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have updated its guidelines. This update supposedly assists the prosecution of cybercrime.

The specific focus of this revision covers:
A)           Where offenders set up fake profiles in the names of others;
B)           New social media offences, including, revenge pornography and controlling or coercive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship.

Due to the growth of social media it is import apparently, both prosecutor and public are made aware of what constitutes a criminal offence when an offender engages with social media.

Alison Saunders, DPP, said: “Online communication is developing at such a fast pace, new ways of targeting and abusing individuals online are constantly emerging. We are seeing more and more cases where social media is being used as a method to facilitate both existing and new offences.”

“It is vital that prosecutors consider the bigger picture when looking at evidence and examine both the online and offline behaviour pattern of the defendant. Online abuse is cowardly and can be deeply upsetting to the victim.”

“Worryingly we have seen an increase in the use of cyber-enabled crime in cases related to Violence against Women and Girls, including domestic abuse. Offenders can mistakenly think that by using false online profiles and creating websites under a false name their offences are untraceable. Thankfully this is not the case an online footprint will be left by the offender.”

“Our guidelines are under constant review and continuously updated to ensure prosecutors have clear advice on new methods of committing crimes.”

Specific advice has been added to the guidelines about the use of false online profiles and websites with false and damaging information. For example, it may be a criminal offence if a profile is created under the name of a victim with fake information uploaded which, could potentially damage the victims their reputation and humiliate them. Information can then be shared in a way that makes it appear that the victims themselves have made statements. This could amount to an offence, such as grossly offensive communication or harassment.

Furthermore, since the 2012 guidelines two new offences have been created. The new guidelines have simply incorporated these. Revenge pornography is largely carried out online and is worryingly becoming a common form of revenge, often after relationships breakdown. Controlling or coercive behaviour came into force on 29 December 2015. Whilst this form of abuse can be carried out both online and offline, prosecutors need to stay up to date as to the use of GPS and spyware amongst others, which Offenders may use such to assert control over a victim. 

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