Northumbria Police in Britain warned online users that anyone who posts “offensive” and “potentially criminal” comments about grooming gangs will be tracked down and prosecuted.
The police force launched an investigation on Facebook comments posted to its Facebook page in response to stories about the Operation Shelter scandal. During the scandal, white British girls were groomed and sexually abused by gangs made up of mostly Muslim Pakistani men in Newcastle. 18 men were convicted over the sex crimes.
According to Chronicle Live and Breitbart, police reviewed every comment on the page after a member of the public complained that the posts made references to the convicted criminals’ race and religion—two of which were then recorded as racially aggravated public order offenses.
The police decided that there were eight comments that required action and have since tracked down six people responsible for posts “deemed to be offensive and potentially criminal.”
“As a result of a complaint, we can confirm we looked into a number of comments posted on the force’s Facebook page,” said a spokesman from Northumbria Police. “Following an investigation, which has now concluded, we spoke to two males as voluntary attenders and visited a further four people in their homes, and provided them with words of advice.”
“All expressed their remorse and stated that the intention of their comments was not to cause concern or to be offensive and have acknowledged the words of advice provided,” he added. “We would also like to take this opportunity to remind people using social media that they should do so responsibly and ensure they do not post anything which could be considered offensive.”
While many of the groomers’ sex crimes against young girls were, by their own admissions, racially-motivated, Judge Penny Moreland allowed the convicts to receive lesser sentences because she believed the victims were targeted “not because of their race, but because they were young, impressionable, naïve and vulnerable.”
As reported by The Times in October 2017, British police arrested at least 3,395 people for making offensive comments on the Internet in 2016, across 29 police forces. The exact figures are likely to be significantly higher, as 13 police forces refused to provide the requested information.