Protection from Harassment Act 1997
The PHA includes the following provisions:
Harassment (section 2): a summary only offence, carrying a maximum of six months' imprisonment and/or a level 5 fine;
Stalking (section 2A): a summary only offence, carrying a maximum of six months' imprisonment and /or a level 5 fine;
Fear of violence (section 4): an either way offence, carrying a maximum of ten years' imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment;
Stalking - involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress (section 4A): an either way offence, carrying a maximum of ten years' imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment;
Part A: Offences – Communications Offences
Where social media is not being used to commit another substantive offence, prosecutors may turn to consider the communications offences available.
Selection of Charges
The first question for prosecutors to consider is identifying the appropriate offence. Section 1 is an either-way offence. Upon conviction on indictment a defendant may face a maximum sentence of 2 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. Section 127 is a summary only offence, but with a statutory provision as to time limit (see below).
Computer Misuse Act
Section 3: Unauthorised Acts with intent to impair, or with recklessness as to impairing the operation of a computer
The maximum sentence on indictment is 10 years' imprisonment.
Cruelty to a child – assault and ill treatment, abandonment, neglect, and failure to protect
Triable either way
Maximum: 10 years’ custody
Offence range: Community order – 8 years’ custody
Forgery and Counterfeiting
Offences under sections 1 - 4 and section 5(1) and 5(3) Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 are either way maximum 10 years' imprisonment or fine or both.
Child trafficking /exploitation / slavery and forced labour
Child trafficking is the practice of transporting children into, within and out of the UK or any other country for the purposes of exploitation. The exploitation can be varied and include:
criminal activity (e.g. cannabis cultivation, petty street crime, illegal street trade, etc.);
sexual exploitation (brothels, closed community, for child abuse images);
application of residence;
illegal adoption; and
Where there is an arrangement made to travel, or to facilitate travel with a view to child exploitation, section 2 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 should be used. In these circumstances, regard should be had to the victim's age in determining their vulnerability.