TROLL WARS; Police tackle surge in online hate crime sparked by Rangers crisis.Byline: Annie Brown
standpoints. People have been reporting comments made about players and sectarian comments they have seen."
Football-related hate crime is passed on to the Football Co-ordination Unit for Scotland (FoCUS), which was set up to tackle the main problems associated with football - disorder, violence, sectarianism and hate crime.
Based in Strathclyde, it focuses on matches but is increasingly reacting to the hate crime that is spreading through social networking See social networking site.
social networking - social network sites.
Inspector Marian Maclean, who works with FoCUS, said it was a growing part of the unit's work. She said: "I think if the police could abolish the internet they probably would - the potential for committing crime on the internet is absolutely massive, in all walks of life. The ease of communication and the untraceable equipment means the potential is huge.
"Twitter users can have thousands, sometimes millions of followers.
"At the touch of a button, all those people can be contacted and that can be used for good or bad."
But arrests have been made and jail terms handed out to offenders.
A man who admitted posting a picture of Neil Lennon Neil Francis Lennon (born June 25, 1971 in Lurgan, County Armagh) is a professional footballer from Northern Ireland. He is the former captain of Celtic F.C., after leaving the club at the end of the 2006-07 campaign. covered in bullet wounds on a social networking site A Web site that provides a virtual community for people interested in a particular subject or just to "hang out" together. Members create their own online "profile" with biographical data, pictures, likes, dislikes and any other information they choose to post. was jailed for 14 months in March. David Craig David Craig may refer to:
Strathclyde Police Strathclyde Police is the police force for the Scottish council areas of Argyll and Bute, City of Glasgow, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Renfrewshire, Inverclyde, North Ayrshire North Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire and West Dunbartonshire. arrested and charged a man in January after Rangers stars Maurice Edu Maurice Edu (born April 18, 1986 in Fontana, California) is an American soccer player who currently plays for Major League Soccer side Toronto FC.
Edu was drafted by Toronto as the 1st overall pick of the 2007 MLS SuperDraft. and Kyle Bartley were allegedly subjected to racist comments on Twitter, and just this week a teenager arrested over a malicious tweet sent to Team GB diver Tom Daley Tom Daley was a former professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper for Grimsby Town, Huddersfield Town & Peterborough United. was issued with a warning after he claimed the sports star had let his late father down.
Marian said: "Twitter makes your victim more accessible. A lot of footballers have Twitter accounts, so offensive comments can be made directly to them, in a way that never could happen before."
But users can be difficult to trace, sometimes impossible.
Twitter have a policy of not co-operating with law enforcement agencies, which can make it impossible to trace anonymous tweeters.
Marian said: "When you have a large company like Twitter based in America, it is a challenge to try to communicate and persuade them to help."
Although the unit will monitor fan sites to gauge numbers and potential flashpoints at matches, tackling online hate relies heavily on public complaints.
The force set up an online reporting system, where members of the public can easily report hate crime spread through the net, and it is being used increasingly as the public hear about it.
But Marian said: "It is difficult because the internet is so big. " At the "shameful" Scottish Cup The Scottish Football Association Challenge Cup, usually known as the Scottish Cup, is the national cup knockout competition in Scottish football. The trophy awarded to the winners has the distinction of being the oldest national trophy in the world. replay at Celtic Park in March last year, three Rangers players were sent off during the tie, which also saw several touch-line and tunnel confrontations and 34 arrests inside the stadium.
It wasn't just television that spread the word of Scotland's shame but the internet and social-networking sites.
FoCUS received emailed complaints from as far away as Australia, demanding to know what was being done about the sectarian abuse. Marian said: "We are making sure that we do something about it."
Arrests have been made following the evidence gathered on YouTube.
Marian said: "If you have a contentious match and go on YouTube the next week, it is astounding, some of the things there - scenes of violence, smoke bombs being released, people singing offensive songs.
"You can't set a bar on what is offensive. If you wouldn't shout it out to someone on a Saturday afternoon at the match, don't do it on social-networking sites and the internet. It is a different context but it is still hate crime."
"It is not just about investigating it, but about changing behaviour. Slowly but surely it is changing in football, certainly at games. It is hard to judge whether it is improving on the internet because there is so much that we don't see."
She said the unit had also done a lot to enlighten officers on what was offensive.
She said: "If you are not from here and not brought up in the Rangers, Celtic, Protestant, Catholic tradition, you maybe don't recognise some of the behaviour as being offensive or sectarian, particularly officers from other parts of the country. There has been a lot of work done to educate them."
JAILED J David Craig
DEFACEDAn image of Lennon covered in bullet wounds was posted on Facebook HURTFULA teen was arrested after a malicious tweet to Daley VICTIMJ Police arrested a man after alleged racist comments about Edu ABUSEJ The Rangers defender was also allegedly tormented by racist tweets TARGETTED J Threats against Regan have led police to place him under protection HEARTLESS J Teenager put pictures online as accident victim Craig died ON PATROL Z Inspector Marian Maclean from Strathclyde Police's FoCUS Unit