Internet troll conviction rates soar in a decade, figures reveal

1,209 people were found guilty of Section 127 offences last year

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Convictions for crimes under a law used to prosecute internet trolls have increased nearly eight-fold in a decade, official figures reveal. Last year, 1,209 people were found guilty of offences under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 compared with 143 in 2004.

It is a crime under the Act to send “by means of a public electronic communications network” a message or other material that is “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”.

Previously little used, Section 127 has come to prominence in recent years following a string of high-profile cases of trolling on social media sites. It can also cover phone calls and emails, and cases that cause the victim annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) show that 1,501 defendants were prosecuted under the law last year while another 685 were cautioned.

The MoJ figures also revealed a similar rise in the number of convictions under the Malicious Communications Act, which states that it is an offence to send a threatening, offensive or indecent letter, electronic communication or article with the intent to cause distress or anxiety.

Last year, 694 individuals were found guilty of offences under this Act – the highest number for at least a decade and more than 10 times higher than the 64 convictions recorded in 2004.