London's Metropolitan Police Force is launching a crack team of specialist investigators dedicated to investigating online hate crimes in the UK, with a focus on victimisation occurring on social networks.
The officers, together with community volunteers, will form an innovative London-based hub due to launch in the coming months, the BBC reports. They will come up with technological solutions for responding to online hate crimes, as well as building countermeasures and intelligence capabilities.
The hub will also be used to identify and support victims of social media-based hate crime, which the Met has identified as playing an increasingly central role in targeting individuals and communities.
"The police response to online hate crime is inconsistent, primarily because police officers are not equipped to tackle it," according to an outline of the programme, published by the Mayor of London's office. "The purpose of this programme is to strengthen the police and community response to this growing crime type."
The squad of officers is being funded in part by the Home Office Police Innovation Fund, which is donating £450,000 to the two-year pilot project, which will in total cost more than £1.7 million.