North Wales Police chief says social media hate crimes won’t be tolerated after discussing his battle with trolls
The chief constable of North Wales Police has stressed that hate crimes carried out on social media won’t be tolerated.
Carl Foulkes revealed he had been targeted by a number of troll accounts after the issue was raised by a member of the North Wales Police and Crime Panel.
Panel chair Pat Astbury said online abuse was becoming an increasing issue in the area during a meeting held earlier this week.
She asked Mr Foulkes what the consequences were for offenders as well as seeking reassurances over action being taken by the region’s police force to tackle the problem.
He said in response that officers face a difficult balance in distinguishing what type of comments are protected as freedom of speech and those which cross a line.
He said: “We can work with the social media providers to get the content taken down, and we’ve got some really good examples of where we’ve done that.
“We can work with the individual who has been subjected to make sure that they’ve got protection, and in some cases we can actually prosecute around hate crime legislation.
“The challenge on that is when does free speech become hate crime, and that balance between the two.
“It’s definitely an area that’s going to become more and more of a demand driver for us.
“It’s not as easy as just telling somebody to turn off their social media account, because actually it’s so much a part of people’s lives.
“I get trolled by a variety of interesting individuals and the obvious answer is just don’t use it anymore but it’s part of your work and it’s part of who you are, so it’s very difficult.”
Ms Astbury said that she understood the difficulties faced by frontline officers.
However, she said online abuse should not be seen as acceptable.
In reply, Mr Foulkes added: “One of the first things that we’ll say to anybody that has been subject to to language, abuse or behaviour online is to challenge right back and to get straight back to the social media company.
“If it is of a level, we will absolutely put it through and will investigate. We have done that pretty successfully as well.” Spotted something? Got a story? Send a Facebook Message | A direct message on Twitter | Email: News@Deeside.com