POLICE face a backlash after arresting a 17-year-old boy who posted offensive messages on Twitter directed at the British Olympic diver Tom Daley. Officers are now calling for guidance as to how they should deal with such situations in future, amid questions over whether the law is being applied evenly.
Dorset police arrested the 17-year-old yesterday in Weymouth on suspicion of malicious communications. He was later handed a harassment warning and released on bail.
The arrest followed a number of abusive tweets which were directed at Daley after he and his partner failed to win a medal in the synchronised diving at the Olympics. One of them accused Daley of letting down his father.
The comedian Frankie Boyle, whose humour is offensive to many, and who only a few days ago was accused of ‘vile’ abuse by newspapers for posting a tweet saying that the Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington had a ‘dolphin face’, questioned whether the law was being applied evenly, tweeting: ‘You can troll Tom Daley’s diving partner and nobody’ll give a f***.’
Liberal Democrat Dr Evan Harris, who campaigned to abolish the blasphemy laws, suggested the arrest of the 17-year-old in Weymouth was “an over-reaction”.
Police appear to recognise they are open to ridicule over the matter. Simon Reed, vice chairman of the Police Federation which represents Rank-and-file officers, told The Times that officers need guidance because at the moment they are ‘having to make it up as they go along’.