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Online Hate Crime

Volume 614: debated on Tuesday 6 September 2016

2. What assessment she has made of her Department’s contribution to tackling online hate crime. (906055)

Hate crime is abhorrent and has no place in society. The Government published their plan to tackle hate crime, “Action Against Hate”, in July 2016. This Government believe that the enforcement of criminal legislation has an important role in tackling online hate. We also need deterrence and prevention, which require a broader response, from counter-narrative activity through to effective management from the internet industry.

The last time I asked the Secretary of State a question in here, she invited me to join her on a delegation to China. May I reciprocate and invite her and her Front-Bench colleagues to come to Bassetlaw day in the Jubilee Room, hosted by me and the hon. Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick)?

True Vision, the internet reporting organisation based in the Secretary of State’s offices, is the pride and joy of her Department and the envy of every other Government in the world. Is she going to allow it to disappear into some other Department, or is she going to keep it in her Department?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his characteristically delivered question. The Secretary of State has, I gather, recently written to him on this matter. The cross-Government hate crime programme is highly regarded by this Government and internationally. I am committed to ensuring that that important work continues.

I welcome my hon. Friend to his post. The Government were right to make posting revenge porn online a crime. Figures released today show that there have been 200 prosecutions for revenge pornography, yet more than 1,000 cases have been reported to the police. Does the Minister agree that, as with other sex-related crimes, anonymity for victims perhaps needs to be carefully considered in cases of revenge pornography?

I thank my right hon. Friend for her question and, indeed, for the work that she and her Select Committee do in this area. Revenge porn is a terrible abuse of trust that can leave victims feeling humiliated and degraded. By making it a specific offence carrying a maximum sentence of two years behind bars, we have sent a clear message that this crime will not be tolerated. On anonymity, I am interested in what she says; if she would like to write to me about that issue, I will consider it.

I welcome the Minister to his post. Has he seen this morning’s comments by the Director of Public Prosecutions that social media is one of the driving forces behind the record high in recorded violent crimes against women and girls? I welcome what the Minister has said about the need for a broader response, so what does he plan to do to safeguard the many specialist services that exist to support women who are suffering online harassment and abuse, many of which are suffering funding cuts?

As I have already said, this crime is deplorable. I suspect that it has always happened and that social media has facilitated it, and that we are now detecting more crime of this kind. I am determined to maintain services that support women and, indeed, men who are subjected to the crime, and I will continue to keep a close eye on that.

What action are the Government taking to combat online anti-Semitic hate crime emanating from extremist groups on campus?

Online anti-Semitic crime, like revenge porn, is an appalling crime that is more easily committed through use of the internet and anonymity. With specific regard to anti-Semitism, the Government, thanks mainly to the fantastic work done by the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) and his all-party group, have made significant advances. I will consider my right hon. Friend’s comments on anti-Semitic crime, particularly on campus.