Angie Bray MP has tabled an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to introduce a maximum jail term for trolling of 2 years. This clause may be counter-productive to those wanting tougher jail terms.
At present under the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and Communications Act 2003 someone can face 6 months prison for each offence. This is unlike the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 where it has to be shown there were a series of trolling attacks – a course of conduct – and the sentence is for all acts not each individual as is possible under these other two laws. Jamie Counsel and Anthony Gristock faced 4 years and 3 years and 8 months in prison respectively, for trolling during the 2011 UK riots, albeit under the Serious Crimes Act 2007.
At it stands Counsel will never have his conviction spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and will have to declare it when applying for work indefinitely. Gristock’s will become spent after 7 years. Had both been charged under this proposed amendment their convictions would have been spent after 4 years.
On this basis it is likely I will support Angie Bray’s amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, and in fact think it should also amend all other laws that can be used to prosecute trolling to introduce the maximum term of 2 years instead of ridiculously long ones. If one thinks that convicted sex offender Max Clifford only got 2 years for his heinous crimes, then are the government seriously saying that sending people to jail for saying something that another person finds offensive is comparable to the life changing consequences of the actions of sex offenders?