Australians turning to Police as cyber-bullying increases

An article published in The Guardian stated that as many as half the daily complaints received by police in the UK about low-level antisocial behaviour and harassment now relates to activity that happens online. Unfortunately, this harrowing trend is mirrored in Australia. Strath Gordon, Director of Public Affairs for the New South Wales Police Force, said that local police are dealing with these issues more often. 

By Alex Choros

An article published in The Guardian stated that as many as half the daily complaints received by police in the UK about low-level antisocial behaviour and harassment now relates to activity that happens online. Unfortunately, this harrowing trend is mirrored in Australia. Strath Gordon, Director of Public Affairs for the New South Wales Police Force, said that local police are dealing with these issues more often. "We are certainly seeing a trend across the state that people are turning to police for assistance in relation to online offences such as cyber-bullying and cyber-harassment".

Local officers are now receiving guidance on how to deal with cyber-harassment and bullying cases as part of their general police training. "It's important to recognise that the majority of our officers are digital natives," said Gordon. "Approximately 90% of our officers joined the Force in the past 15 years or so, they get social media and they are tech savvy".
"Officers understand this is now a part of the crime environment".

Despite the difficulty in defining what exactly constitutes as cyber-harassment, Gordon said: "if you feel you are being intimidated or harassed online, report it and the police will act". Under the Commonwealth Criminal Code, offenders would be charged under existing laws covering Telecommunications Offences. These include:

Section 474.15: Using a carriage service to make a threat. Threat to kill. 10 years imprisonment. Threat to harm. 7 years imprisonment.
Section 474.17: Using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence. 3 years imprisonment.

While the NSW Police Force expect this trend to continue, Gordon said that people are recognising cyber-bullying as a crime, and are taking the initiative to report it. "Online bullies think they can be anonymous, but police can track them down," said Gordon. "You don't have to put up with it, and police can take action".

Source: The Guardian

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