Naturists Campaigning for Naturism

NAG response to DPP guidelines on prosecuting cases involving social media

ANNEX A

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 socialmedia.consultation@cps.gsi.gov.uk.

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

9th Floor
Rose Court
Southwark Bridge
SE1 9HS

or by email to: socialmedia.consultation@cps.gsi.gov.uk

Welsh language documents

The following consultation documents are available in Welsh language:

Alternative formats

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.

Next steps

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.

 

Response Sheet

 

Contact details:

 

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’)

 

Address:  

 

 

 

 

Contact   phone number: 01983   730352

 

Contact   e-mail address: treasurer@naturistactiongroup.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?

 

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to NAG response to DPP guidelines on prosecuting cases involving social media

  • Hi Dunacn
    I’ve just had a look at the DPP stuff and broadly speaking it does seem generally sensible…. absolutely though it does need to include the points that you have made re nakedness. The high threshold is vital, we will need to monitor that one and make sure it does not get watered down. The CPS guidelines do, I am glad to say, make the point that there is a potential for a ‘chilling effect on free speech and prosecutors should exercise considerable caution before bringing charges’ and also that ‘the defendant must be shown to have intended or be aware that the message was grossly offensive, indecent or menacing’. Useful stuff.
    Lastly, in para 43 under public order legislation, the interesting point is made
    “the criminal law should not be invoked unless and until it is established that the conduct which is the subject of the charge amounts to such a threat to public order as to require the invocation of the criminal as opposed to the civil law”
    Could we use this concept to counter the use of section 5 of the POA against someone being naked in a public place on the grounds that such conduct does not pose a sufficient threat to public order to require the invocation of the criminal law?
    Roger

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