Offenders could now face up to two years in jail, justice secretary Chris Grayling says
Internet trolls could face up to two years in prison under plans for new harsher sentences proposed by the government.
Following a number of high-profile cases, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced he would be looking to quadruple the current maximum sentence of six months as he looks to “take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”.
“We must send out a clear message – if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years,” he said.
The new measures will be part of an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill going through Parliament, which is due to be debated in the House of Lords in the coming week.
Under the changes, which will apply to England and Wales only, police would be given more time to collect enough evidence to enable successful prosecutions to be brought. Magistrates could also pass the most serious cases on to crown courts, which could lead to the maximum sentences being extended.
Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, Grayling (pictured left) said, “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life.
“No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.”
Online trolls, described as anyone who subjects others to “sexually offensive, verbally abusive or threatening material” online, are currently prosecuted in magistrates’ courts under the Malicious Communications Act.
The Act, which does not apply to Scotland, also says it is an offence to send another person a letter or electronic communication that contains an indecent or grossly offensive message, a threat or information which is false and known or believed by the sender to be false.
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