Cybercrime: Prosecutions

Justice written question – answered on 23rd November 2011.

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Photo of Steve Rotheram Steve Rotheram Labour, Liverpool, Walton

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice

(1) what assessment his Department has made of the conviction rate for those charged for improper use of (a) public electronic communications networks and (b) social networking sites;

(2) what assessment his Department has made of the effects of section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 on the conviction rate for people charged with improper use of (a) public electronic communications networks and (b) social networking sites;

(3) what assessment he has made of the operation of section 127(3) of the Communications Act 2003; and how many proceedings have been brought under this section of the Act since its implementation.

Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) (Prisons and Probation)

Defendants proceeded against at the magistrates court and found guilty at all courts, and the conviction ratio for offences under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 in England and Wales from 2006 to 2010, can be viewed in the table.

Data held centrally on the Ministry of Justice Court Proceedings Database do not include information about the circumstances behind each case, other than that which may be identified from a statute. It is not possible to separately identify those specific cases where the defendant was proceeded against for using a social networking site.

The Ministry of Justice has not made an assessment on the conviction ratio under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, as the effective working of the Communications Act 2003 comes within the remit of the Department for Culture Media and Sport.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts and the conviction ratio(%) (1) , under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 (2) , England and Wales, 2006-10 (3, 4)
2006 2007 20085 2009 2010
Proceeded against 550 680 872 1,126 1,511
Found guilty 377 498 693 873 1,186
Conviction ratio % 69 73 79 78 78
(1) The proportion of defendants proceeded against who were found guilty. (2) Includes offence: Communications Act 2003 under section 127 Sending or causing sending of grossly offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing or false message/matter by electronic communications network. (3) The figures given in the table on court proceedings relate to persons for whom these offences were the principal offences for which they were dealt with. When a defendant has been found guilty of two or more offences it is the offence for which the heaviest penalty is imposed. Where the same disposal is imposed for two or more offences, the offence selected is the offence for which the statutory maximum penalty is the most severe. (4) Every effort is made to ensure that the figures presented are accurate and complete. However, it is important to note that these data have been extracted from large administrative data systems generated by the courts and police forces. As a consequence, care should be taken to ensure data collection processes and their inevitable limitations are taken into account when those data are used. (5) Excludes data for Cardiff magistrates court for April, July and August 2008. Source: Justice Statistics Analytical Services—Ministry of Justice.

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