CPS Guidance on Social Media – what is an offence?

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published new guidance on the range of offences for which social media users could face criminal charges.  Potential offences include “doxxing” – posting personal information about a third party, such as their address or bank details – or creating a derogatory hashtag to encourage harassment. Those found to be encouraging the online harassment of others could face charges under the Serious Crime Act 2007.

The guidelines also include specific information on Violence Against Women and Girls (VaWG), Hate Crime and vulnerable victims and include the crime of “baiting”, where a person is humiliated online by being labelled as promiscuous or having ‘photoshopped’ images of them being posted on social media.

Sexting that involve images taken of under-18-year-olds is also covered in the guidelines. Advising that it would not usually be in the public interest to prosecute the consensual sharing of an image between two children of a similar age in a relationship. However when exploitation, grooming or bullying is involved prosecution may be considered.