LONDON: The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched a new police unit to help tackle online hate crime. The Metropolitan Police unit, the first of its kind in the UK, will improve support for hate crime victims across the capital. Five dedicated Met police officers, led by a Detective Inspector, make up the new Online Hate Crime Hub, which aims to improve the police response to online hate by gathering intelligence, improving understanding and testing new investigation methods. The police unit’s officers have undergone specialist training in order to help identify, prevent and investigate these crimes, including abuse on Twitter and Facebook. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We know hate crime has a huge impact on those who experience it, and that online hate, where abusers mistakenly believe they are hidden behind a screen, can be particularly damaging. “My approach is clear: there must be zero tolerance of this behaviour, and we are working to improve protection for victims by taking advice from anti-hate organisations, who will examine whether something is actively causing harm and should be removed. The Online Hate Crime Hub will work with community experts to develop the police’s understanding of online hate, helping officers tackle it more effectively and improving services for victims. “We need to encourage more victims to report incidents, and explore new ways of identifying, preventing and challenging hate crime in all forms.”
The unit will work with community groups, social media organisations, academic hate crime specialists and criminal justice partners. The police unit was launched by the Mayor at his inaugural Online Hate Crime Summit. At the summit, representatives from Twitter, Facebook, Crown Prosecution Service, the Met and charities joined victims of online hate at City Hall to discuss how they can work better together to tackle online hate and support those affected by it. A key aim of the Online Hate Crime Hub is to build a stronger evidence base and better understanding of the scope, nature and scale of online hate, in order to tackle it. Once an online hate crime has been reported, it will be automatically referred to the Hub, which will provide referrals to specialist victim support partners and work with the relevant borough officers to carry out a thorough investigation. The Hub has been granted £452,000 by the Home Office Police Innovation Fund, with the remainder of funding coming from the Mayor’s Office for Policing And Crime and the Met. Mr Khan, the first Muslim to hold the office of Mayor, led the city’s Pride parade last year. The Mayor also got into a high profile spat with US President Donald Trump. President Trump previously called Mr Khan “ignorant” and “rude” for questioning his immigration policies.