London police to create a troll-hunting social media unit

The Online Hate Crime Hub will help identify trolls and provide more support to victims of online abuse.


In a bid to tackle rising levels of abuse on social media, London's Metropolitan Police is to set up a five-person team of specialist officers tasked with targeting online trolls. Scotland Yard will spend £1.7 million on the unit, called the Online Hate Crime Hub, which will provide "targeted and effective services for victims", offer advanced intelligence on offenders and strengthen links between police, communities and social media companies like Facebook and Twitter.

Although UK authorities have taken steps to outlaw online abuse, victims have complained that police forces have been slow to act or been left feeling like their voices haven't been heard. The Online Hate Crime Hub aims to better support those targeted by trolls, unmasking perpetrators who have operated under "veil of anonymity" provided by social media services.

"Those targeted can become isolated, living in fear of the online behaviour materialising in the real world," the London Mayor's office said. "The police response to online hate crime is inconsistent, primarily because police officers are not equipped to tackle it."

The team -- comprising of one detective inspector, one detective sergeant and three detective constables -- will also help police officers and community groups identify, report and tackle abuse, ensuring victims receive the proper level of support.