Sadiq Khan’s ‘Online Hate Crime Hub’ Investigates 1,612 Cases – Nets Six Convictions

Sadiq Khan
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

London mayor Sadiq Khan’s controversial “Online Hate Crime Hub” has investigated 1,612 cases over two years — but secured only six convictions.

The £1.7 million unit, which ties up five “specialist officers” including a senior detective policing Facebook comments, tweets, and so on for “hate”, was hugely controversial when it was announced in 2016, at a time when London’s ongoing violent crime crisis was spiralling out of control.

Years later, it has been revealed that the so-called “Twitter squad” has investigated more than 1,600 cases, but charged only nine alleged offenders during twelve months of full-scale operations — a third of whom were not successfully convicted.

Only one of the six people actually found guilty of an offence received a term of imprisonment — although this was suspended, meaning they will not actually be locked up unless they commit further offences (and even then judges may not activate the sentence).

Susan Hall, a Conservative member of the London Assembly who sits on the capital’s police and crime committee, tweeted that the revelations proved “Sadiq Khan’s £1.7m ‘Hate Crime Hub’ is an exercise in spin over substance.”

“It has prosecuted just six trolls in two years,” she complained.

“Instead of wasting millions on a new unsuccessful unit for PR purposes, he could have put more bobbies on the beat!”

Senior police officers throughout the United Kingdom have not lost their appetite for pursuing people for online speech crimes, however, with Cardiff University having announced a “cutting-edge ethical artificial intelligence” tool named “HateLab” which is being used by “Wales’ four police forces, Greater Manchester Police, Welsh Government and hate crime charities” as recently as December 2018.

Remarkably, HateLab’s developers cited Brexit as a major driver for the tool’s development, with Professor Matthew Williams suggesting that whether the now three-year-old vote to Leave the European Union leads to “a second referendum, a soft Brexit or a no Brexit, there is concern that events will motivate more hate crime”.

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