The consultation process
The purpose of this consultation is to seek a range of views on the Interim Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via Social Media.
We welcome your comments by no later than 13 March 2013.
Questions for consultation
We have identified a number of questions which are outlined at the end of the Consultation Paper on which we would particularly invite comment.
If you are replying by email, we should be grateful if you would not attach any other documents to the consultation paper. There are limits on the size of documents that we are able to accept and any completed consultation document which has an attachment runs the risk of not being delivered. If you wish to send an attachment to us, please email us separately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you use a special software program to read the Consultation Document and you find that you have difficulty in reading it, please get in touch with the Team whose contact details are set out in the How to Respond section.
If you would like to return your replies to the question at the back of the Consultation Document by post, please download the Interim Guidelines in PDF format.
Alternatively, you can read the draft Interim Guidelines on the CPS website.
How to respond
Both written and electronic responses to the consultation are acceptable, although we would prefer electronic replies on the completed pro-forma.
Please be aware that if you complete and return this document by email, you will be responding over the open internet. If you would prefer, please complete and return the PDF version to the postal address given below.
Please include your name, organisation (if applicable), postal address and email address.
Closing date for responses: 13 March 2013
Responses can be sent by post to:
Interim Guidelines on Social Media Consultation Team
Strategy and Policy Directorate
Crown Prosecution Service
or by email to: email@example.com
Welsh language documents
The following consultation documents are available in Welsh language:
- Download the consultation document on interim guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media consultation document in Welsh (Adobe PDF document – 230kb)
- Dadlwythwch y ddogfen ymgynghori ynglŷn â cyfarwyddiadau interim Erlyn achosion sydd yn gysylltiedig a chyfryngau cymdeithasu (Dogfen PDF Adobe 79kb)
- Download the consultation response document in Welsh (Microsoft Word file, 34kb).
- Dadlwythwch y ddogfen ymateb Gymraeg ynglŷn â’r ymgynghoriad (Dogfen Microsoft Word – 71kb)
If you require a copy of this Consultation Paper in any other format, for example, audio or large print, please contact the postal address above.
We will consider every individual response received. A summary of the consultation responses will be published on the CPS website in accordance with the Government’s guidelines.
Responses: Confidentiality and disclaimer
The information you send us may be passed to colleagues within the CPS, the Government or related agencies. Furthermore, information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information legislation including the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence. In view of this it would be helpful if you could briefly explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential. If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not be regarded as binding on the CPS.
Please ensure your response is marked clearly if you wish your response and name to be kept confidential. Confidential responses will be included in any statistical summary of numbers of comments received and views expressed. The CPS will process your personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 – in the majority of circumstances this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties.
Government Consultation Principles
The key Consultation Principles are:
- departments will follow a range of timescales rather than defaulting to a 12-week period, particularly where extensive engagement has occurred before;
- departments will need to give more thought to how they engage with and consult with those who are affected;
- consultation should be ‘digital by default’, but other forms should be used where these are needed to reach the groups affected by a policy; and
- the principles of the Compact between government and the voluntary and community sector will continue to be respected.
The complete Consultation Principles are available from the Cabinet Office website.
Response Pro Forma
When responding it would helpful if you would complete this pro forma. Please fill out your name and address or that of your organisation if relevant. You may withhold these details if you wish but we will be unable to include you in future consultation exercises.
Please supply details of who has completed this response.
|Response completed by (name):||Duncan Heenan|
|Position in organisation (if appropriate):||Director|
|Name of organisation (if appropriate):||Naturist Action Group (‘NAG’)|
|Contact phone number:||01983 730352|
|Contact e-mail address:||firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Date:||24th December 2012|
Please answer the consultation questions in the boxes below.
|1. Do you agree with the approach set out in paragraph 12 to initially assessing offences which may have been committed using social media?|
Naturist Action Group is in broad agreement with the approach to initial assessment of possible offences.
|2. Do you agree with the threshold in bringing a prosecution under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 or section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988?|
Naturist Action Group believes that the ‘High Threshold’ approach is right in following the principle that mere annoyance or disapproval should not be ground s for criminal action. NAG also agrees that the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights should be followed in preserving the right of Free Expression. However, NAG feels that it needs to be specifically recognised in the guidelines that Free Expression is not limited to words, but also includes images. In this respect, as a naturist organisation, NAG supports the view that non-aggressive, non-sexual, nudity is a legitimate form of free expression, and should never be considered obscene or criminal in any communication. This should be specified in determining what is ‘reasonable’, as otherwise it is too open to interpretation in Court, according to the views of the particular prosecutor, judge or jury.
NAG believes that the ultimate test should be whether actual harm has been caused by the communication, and any harm has to undergo evidential tests rather than being based only on claims by those receiving the communications.
|3. Do you agree with the public interest factors set out in paragraph 39?|
Yes, so long as 39d.’s use of ‘freedom of expression’ includes the right to be naked and include images of non-aggressive, non-sexual nudity in social media communications.
|4. Are there any other public interest factors that you think should also be included?|
NAG believes that in assessing the public interest, some account needs to be taken of the expenditure of public resources in pursuing a case, when balanced against the harm done. This requirement should be put in the guidelines.
|5. Do you have any further comments on the interim policy on prosecuting cases involving social media?|