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UK police are starting to crack down hard on online hate crime iStock

A new national crime hub designed to help investigate and prosecute online hate crime will be operational by the end of the year, the Home Office has revealed.

The scheme, managed by officers from the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), will spearhead Internet-based hate crime cases and ensure they are managed effectively.

The plans were touted by UK home secretary Amber Rudd a week after announcing tough new jail terms for those caught viewing terrorist content online.

According to the government, the new hate crime hub will assess whether reports could be considered criminal acts and will also liaison with online platforms – such as social media companies like Facebook and Twitter – hosting any hateful material on the web.

It will seek to identify the culprits of online hate and feed the intelligence it collects into the wider National Intelligence Model - a police database which gathers case information on a wide range of crimes to "help guide policing strategies."

While the Home Office said that the hub is expected to be up-and-running by the end of 2017, an exact timescale or funding model was not published by the British government.

The primary aim will be to "improve the police response" to hate crime online, it said.

"Online hate crime is completely unacceptable," Rudd said. "What is illegal offline is illegal online, and those who commit these cowardly crimes should be met with the full force of the law.

"The national online hate crime hub that we are funding is an important step to ensure more victims have the confidence to come forward and report the vile abuse to which they are being subjected.

"The hub will also improve our understanding of the scale and nature of this despicable form of abuse. With the police, we will use this new intelligence to adapt our response so that even more victims are safeguarded and perpetrators punished."

The news comes after Alison Saunders, the director of public prosecutions at the UK's Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), pledged to bulk up the response to internet-based attacks. She made the strong-worded comments in an August op-ed for The Guardian newspaper.

"Whether shouted in their face on the street, daubed on a wall or tweeted into their living room, hateful abuse can have a devastating impact on victims," she wrote.

"My message to victims is that the CPS, police and others in the criminal justice system are ready to listen and, where we have the evidence, to hold those committing hate crimes to account."

Worried about a child? You can contact the NCPCC's trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support: help@nspcc.org.uk/0808 800 5000.