2007/08 Online Hate Crime Police Attitudes

Brighton –v- Cornwall



February 2008:  In Brighton police take online homophobic crime seriously. 

 

Case 1: An anti-bullying charity welcomed a landmark ruling on cyberbullying handed down by a court in Brighton. A 17-year-old was convicted of harassment after creating a fake profile on the social networking site Bebo and driving his former friend to attempt suicide by luring him into an online relationship and then telling friends and teachers intimate details of their online conversations.

The 16-year-old victim, from Brighton, East Sussex, swallowed 60 painkillers.

Brighton Youth Court was told the victim's life was saved by his mother, who took him to hospital. The cyberbully, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty last month to harassment, and apologised in court on Monday to the victim. He was given a 12-month referral order and told to pay his victim £250. The court also confiscated the offending youths laptop.

Niall Cowley of anti-bullying charity Beat Bullying reported in PinkNews.co.uk:



"This is a significant legal landmark. There is an incorrect perception that real world laws do not apply online, and that harassment, intimidation and threatening behaviour will go unpunished.

"Well let this be a cautionary tale to would-be cyberbullies.

"The truth is, when you bully online, you are more likely to be caught because of your digital fingerprint.

"This young man's courage to take this case to court could well be the single greatest step in making online social networking safer for other young people. We have immense respect for him."

 


The BBC reported that the court heard the pair fell out after the victim revealed secrets and told lies about the defendant.

The youth then set up the Bebo profile of the fake character and lured his former friend into a cyber-relationship where explicit messages were exchanged.

Chair of the bench, Tim Chittleburgh, said he hoped the case would send a message to other youngsters.

"This was a piece of planned and sustained harassment in public," he said.

"You involved or at least intimated that teachers were aware, which was vicious."


Case 2: …..However in Cornwall the previous year (2007)  This homophobic hate message was sent to a gay 17yr old Cornish youth.  Redacted:-



“Oh right so it it u gay boy
U just wait till me nd J**** B********* and A***** B******** nd crazy see you cause we r going to kick the living shit out of ya you f*cking w*nker. U betta hope that we neva see you again cause you will be in hospital and i mean it cause I will put you there and when u get we will be there waiting 4 u.

J**** said tht he will break your f*cking neck A**** will break your legs nad crazy will…break your jaw

BEST HOPE WE DON’T SEE YOU F*CKING TWAT HAHAHAHA”



The Cornish gay youth previously a victim of sustained homophobic bullying at Helston school. The youth had also been a target of homophobic attitudes & bullying from Devon & Cornwall police, as well as being a witness to a number of unprovoked homophobic assaults in Cornwall.  Despite distrusting Cornwall police the gay youth still reported the above hate crime on-line message to Cornwall police.

Brighton police clearly take such homophobic crime very seriously & took a similar case to court. Cornwall police response was to simply issue a verbal caution to the person who had made the Homophobic & physically threatening message to the Cornish gay youth via the bebo website;-

In 2005, 354 homophobic incidents were reported to Devon & Cornwall Constabulary (source:-Criminal Justice Service Lord Justice Kay award), but only 13 of those cases were finalised in Court. Many NEVER investigated properly by Devon & Cornwall police at all, such is the Homophobic attitude & practises in Devon & Cornwall Constabulary.

 

Pink news homophobic attack

 

 March 2008, a man & his girlfriend visited the Penzance place of works of the same young gay person in Cornwall who had received the prior hate message. 

 

The male antagonist made a threat of physical violence to ‘break the legs’ of yet another gay man known to the gay youth the threat was made too. Unfortunately, work premises CCTV cameras, which may have caught the incident normally, were not operative that day. However the incident reported to the business premises management and the incident logged.

The threatening male, (whose identity was known), then made a complaint against the gay employee designed to cause the gay person intimidation, further concern & trouble. The gay youth felt extremely threatened by the incident and equally concerned for the safety & welfare of the other gay male against whom threats to “break his legs” had been made.

This sort of homophobic motivated hate crime all too common and seldom reported, but is it even worth reporting to the HOMOPHOBIC Cornwall police?

As in Cornwall that may simply result in further gay victimisation from the police themselves?

The information of threats of physical violence was forwarded to the Cornwall LGBT Diversity team….However, no further action was taken.

 

NB: By 2014 little had improved. From the Independent Newspaper.

 

"Ben Cooper, a Labour councillor, emails to say he has made a complaint to Devon and Cornwall police about the way they handled a homophobic attack on him last month that left him unconscious. His attacker, he says, was "let off by writing a letter apologising to me for 'bad judgment'." His MP, Sarah Wollaston, is taking up the case".

 

Next go to -  National Audit Office & Human Rights Enquiry

 

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