PPS publishes new Guidelines for Prosecuting Cases Involving Electronic Communications

31 March 2022

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has published its new Guidelines for Prosecuting Cases Involving Electronic Communications.

These guidelines explain the approach of the PPS when considering cases where it is alleged that criminal offences have been committed by the sending of an electronic communication. These communications include phone calls and text messages, internet discussion forums, video streamed on the internet and other messages sent by or on social media platforms.  

You can read the guidelines on the PPS website.  

Dr Richard Scullion, Head of Policy and Information for the PPS, said:

“As a society, the way in which we communicate has changed dramatically over recent years. As the technology evolves, so must our approach as a prosecuting authority.

“These guidelines cover the offences that are most commonly committed by the sending of electronic communications and in particular those sent by text or by using social media. The offences may apply in respect of an original communication and also any resending of a message, for example re-tweeting.

“These can be complex offences, and the guidelines provide important guidance to prosecutors dealing with these types of cases. They also provide increased clarity to the legal community, statutory and voluntary agencies and members of the public.

Dr Scullion added: “A public consultation, carried out between November 2021 and February 2022, has helped to inform the drafting of the guidelines. Looking ahead, they will be kept under review and updated to take account of any future legislative changes in this area.”

Notes to Editors