Hundreds of trolling cases in Hartlepool – police issue warning to ‘blissfully unaware’ abusers

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Social media trolls are being warned that police are on their case - after dealing with an average of four offences a week in Hartlepool.

Cleveland Police dealt with 209 offences of malicious communication harassment in Hartlepool in the last 12 months.

They have has issued the warning to people using sites such as Facebook and other forums, to remind them to be responsible for what they say.

The warning follows a ‘significant rise’ in the number of offences recorded under the Malicious Communications Act.

The force has also seen a rise in the number of harassment cases where social media, particularly Facebook, has been used.

In the 12 months to January, Cleveland Police recorded 1,268 offences of harassment through the Malicious Communications Act.

This is an increase of 122% when compared with the previous 12 months.

The figures relate to all offences of malicious communication which could also cover texting or emailing as well as through social media.

In December, a woman from Hartlepoool was arrested on suspicion of posting an abusive message about five-year-old cancer battler Bradley on Facebook,

She was released on bail at the time, but has now been released from her bail conditions.

Police say the case is not closed and their investigations are continuing.

Temporary superintendent Jason Dickson said: “This is a timely reminder to all social media users to remember that anything they post online is their responsibility, as much as if they said it to someone’s face.

“When we speak to offenders, they do seem blissfully unaware that they can commit offences by using Facebook and other social media sites.

“They also do not seem to realise the harm and impact their words can have on their victim.”

To combat this rise, officers intend to offer age appropriate sessions on internet safety to all schools in the force area and they have already visited some primary and secondary schools within the Stockton Local Policing Area.

The secondary schools have also been offered a more comprehensive session covering internet safety, Facebook and other messaging services, internet grooming and internet bullying.

Sessions cover the taking and sending of inappropriate photos and the consequences of such actions.

Eleven to thirteen year olds also took part in a session which included a video of a woman being groomed and they were given information on who to contact if they experience problems.