The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has published in final form a set of guidelines for use by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in determining whether to bring charges in cases involving communications via social media. The DPP published interim guidelines in December 2012. The newly-published version includes changes that arose from a consultation exercise on the interim guidelines and from further experience gained from specific cases that have arisen in 2013.

The changes, which are summarised in a CPS press release, consist of clarifications rather than any additional substantive principles; among other things, the amendments clarify that the CPS should take certain aggravating factors (such as racism and other types of discrimination) into account when considering whether to prosecute, and explain that the CPS should consider the public interest test (set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors) when looking at the victim’s circumstances and the degree of harm caused.

For more information about social media and the law you can contact Christopher Evans, a consultant in Druces LLP’s Corporate & Commercial Team.

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