May 21 – The fight against racist abuse on social media has resulted in eight men being arrested after an unnamed Tottenham Hotspur player was racially abused on Twitter. Four other men were interviewed by police under caution.
“The investigation was launched following the Manchester United vs Tottenham match on Sunday 11 April. During the match, a Tottenham player was targeted with a series of highly offensive and racist remarks on Twitter,” said a Metropolitan Police statement today (Friday).
The abuse was first detected via Manchester United’s online reporting tool, and then flagged to police in Manchester. The police arrests and interviews took place at a number of different locations across England.
Detective Sergeant Matt Simpson from the Met’s public order crime team, said: “This action makes it abundantly clear that police will not stand for racist thuggery, even if it is committed online. The posts, all of which were on Twitter, were vulgar and were utterly unacceptable. There is no safe haven for this type of abusive behaviour and we are committed to taking decisive action to root it out.”
The Met said that there could be more arrests. “This latest action is the first as part of this investigation, officers continue to identify further possible offences linked to this match,” said the statement.
Chief Constable Mark Roberts, National Police Chiefs’ Council Football Policing Lead, said: “By taking action, it hopefully gets the message across to offenders that you cannot hide and increasingly we will see more arrests as forces, the UK Football Policing Unit and wider football bodies coordinate their efforts. It should also reassure players that we take this incredibly seriously, and if they come forward we will support them, together with Kick it Out and the Professional Footballers’ Association.”
Kick It Out CEO Tony Burnett, welcomed the arrests saying: “We have to make sure we create an environment where online abuse is punished and that the perpetrators are identified as much as possible. These arrests demonstrate the police’s commitment to tackling online abuse and we hope this sends a message to others so they think twice before posting discriminatory abuse.”
The police did not name those who were arrested and questioned but they did release the arrest locations:
[A] A 22-year-old man from Poole, Dorset.
[B] A 26-year-old man from Retford, Nottinghamshire.
[C] A 32-year-old man from Swansea, Wales.
[D] A 27-year-old man from Warrington, Cheshire.
[E] A 20-year-old man from Bristol.
[F] A 20-year-old man from Llanelli, Wales.
[G] A 25-year-old man from Newport, Wales.
[H] A 29-year-old man from Hartlepool, County Durham.
The following attended a police station have been interviewed under caution and since been released as further enquiries continue:
[I] A 20-year-old man from Trafford, Greater Manchester.
[J] A 25-year-old man from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.
[K] A 63-year-old man from Poole, Dorset.
[L] A 25-year-old man from Aberdare, Wales.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org