Washington Cyberbullying Offences Jump From Five to 87 In Five Years

Cyberbullying incidents in Washington last year included race and religion-based hate crimes, harassment and other offences.

By Abi-Maria, Newcastle · May 18, 2020

Pic: Shutterstock

Cyber-bullying offences in Washington have risen dramatically over the last five years, from five offences in 2015 to 87 offences in 2019.

In total, 261 reported offences of cyber-bullying occurred in Washington over the five year period.

The data was provided by Northumbria Police, following the submission of a Freedom of Information request from media literacy charity The Student View.

According to the report, five offences occurred in 2015, all classified as an ‘offence of harassment’. In 2016, there was a steep increase to 38 offences belonging in the same category. 

In 2017, the figure increased dramatically again, to 62 that year. These 62 offences included a combination of ‘causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress’, ‘harassment, alarm or distress’, ‘offence of harassment’, and in two cases, ‘racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.’

69 offences occurred in 2018, all classified as either ‘causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress’, or ‘offence of harassment’.

In the most recent year for which there is data available, 2019, 87 offences were recorded. 

In 2019, there were nine incidents of ‘causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress’, and one of ‘harassment etc. of a person in his home’. A further three offences were listed for both ‘harassment, alarm or distress’ and ‘racially aggravated harassment, alarm or distress.’ One was recorded for ‘racially or religiously aggravated harassment, alarm or distress,’ and 70 for ‘offence of harassment.’

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “While the sharp increase may seem alarming we actually welcome these figures at it shows our education of young people and their families is working. We knew that these offences were taking place but they were not necessarily being reported to police.

“We have educated young people about cyberbullying and offences being committed online and encouraged them to inform a responsible adult so that contact can be made with police.

“We believe that the increase in offences highlights that more people are now coming forward and reporting incidents to us in the first place, and it is important that the public recognise this.

“We would continue to encourage young people and adults alike to contact police if they are targeted online. Malicious communication is a criminal offence and those responsible can, and will, be prosecuted in court.”