Alan Meban, otherwise known as AlaninBelfast (@alaninbelfast) interviewed the Chief Constable of the PSNI Matt Bagott, in mid-April 2013 on social media and the rule of law. Here's what he asked:
Social media is a policing tool as well as a source of crime. Are we going to see a big increase in the number of arrests for online hate crimes and other offenses?
"I think social media gives people the opportunity to be foolish in the sense they don’t have to think so much about what they’re saying and the impact of that. How the law applies to social media is something that has had to be looked at in quite some detail in the past year. In England and Wales the Crown Prosecution Service only got to public guidance at the end of last year, 2012. So we’ve taken that guidance.
At the moment what we’re doing is if we get what we think are offences being committed on social media we will report those to the Public Prosecution Service who will make the prosecutorial decisions. And we have prosecuted some people. But for what some people think is offensive, under the law may not be criminal, and that’s that gap. We’ve taken the guidance from England and Wales, the PPS are looking at that here at the moment, and where we do have overt offences we will pursue them but the laws not quite so straightforward as people think it might be."