Community welcomes Met’s £1.7m unit to tackle online hate

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Community welcomes Met’s £1.7m unit to tackle online hate

The new force will train recruits to 'identify, report and challenge' racism before action can be taken

Stephen is the Jewish News' Foreign Editor

Israel has become a world leader in countering cyber attacks
Israel has become a world leader in countering cyber attacks

The Jewish community has welcomed news that the Met Police is to create a new £1.7 million unit dedicated to fighting online racism, including anti-Semitism, and that it will train a volunteer army.

Comprising five officers, the two-year project was approved by the London Mayor’s office at the end of July, to “filter and identify” hate crimes online, including social media, before helping regional police forces take action.

Crucially, it will also “recruit, train and manage… community volunteers” who will be asked to “identify, report and challenge” online hatred.

“We welcome the announcement of increased resources,” said Marie van der Zyl, vice-president of the Board of Deputies.

“It is a good start and a much-needed message that anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, homophobia, misogyny and all forms of abuse are just as wrong online as they are in person.”

Part funded by the Home Office, the Online Hate Crime Hub will “provide additional intelligence-gathering opportunities” using “new data analytics” to try to trace online racists, who usually hide their real-life identities.

Critics included Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who acknowledged that the move was “well-intentioned” but cautioned that the police should not aim to become “chatroom moderators”.

The Hub has said it will use “predictive policing methods to enable crime prevention,” prompting Farron to warn: “We want more police on the street, not thought police… There is a real danger of undermining our very precious freedom of speech.”

In recent months, tech giants have agreed to do more themselves. In December, Twitter explicitly banned “hateful conduct” for the first time, and social media firms all agreed to remove hate-speech within 24 hours.

Police chiefs have acknowledged the “increasing role that online hate played in targeting individuals and communities,” with perpetrators hiding behind “a veil of anonymity, making it harder to bring them to justice”.

Discussing the armchair army, they said: “A key element of this programme is the delivery of the community hub element, which will work with and support community volunteers to identify, report and challenge online hate material.”

Volunteers should be “skilled in the use of social media and able to both identify and appropriately respond to inappropriate content in the online environment to build the counter-narrative,” they added.

Last month, the government promised “tougher sentences” for those found guilty on hate crimes, in new Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s first significant act since replacing Theresa May.

“Hatred directed against any community, race or religion has no place whatsoever in our diverse society and it needs to be kicked to the curb eradicate hate crime,” she said.

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: