Stuart Hyde, chief constable of Cumbria police who speaks on e-crime for the Association of Chief Police Officers, said it was right for police to intervene in cases of bullying on twitter.
No, I think we have got quite a lot of legislation, dating back to the Malicious Communications Acts of 1998 and 2003. There is a lot there that helps us and gives us the power to do stuff.
This is a new technology, a new way of communicating, it has grown exponentially. There hasn’t been separate legislation, so we are using legislation that wasn’t particularly created for this, but it works reasonably well most of the time.
We are learning from it, there are things that have sometimes gone wrong and I think sometimes it is important that we make sure we provide the service people need.
If people come to us and say ‘I am really upset, I’ve been offended, my life has been made a misery and I want somebody to do something about it’, then yes the police should, whenever possible, try to help.
I don’t want police officers dragged off the streets to deal with frivolous complaints. Where these complaints are pretty serious, then it is quite right that we should intervene, and we do that.
It is important to look at the whole context. It is not just about one tweet, it is a whole range of tweets.
Look at what the individual has done — is this a concerted attempt to have a go at one individual in a way that passes the threshold for offences against the law? If it is, then clearly we should intervene and do something to stop it.
But Hyde said that police have so far not received large numbers of complaints about abusive Twitter messages.