The nature of online offending: explored from Crown Prosecution Service case files

Document type
Sutherland, Clare; Dowling, Samantha
Home Office
Date of publication
15 October 2015
Research Report 82
Criminal Justice Services
Social welfare
Material type

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Evidence regarding online offenders is limited and there are key gaps in knowledge around offender demographics, backgrounds and criminal careers. However, online offences and offenders are not easily identified through traditional data sources such as police recorded crime. This report therefore aims to help build understanding of online offenders and the nature of their offending by outlining findings from an analysis of case files held by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS). The research involved analysis of offences prosecuted and convicted under the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (CMA); the Fraud Act 2006; s.127 of the Communications Act 2003 (CA); and the Malicious Communications Act 1998 (MCA).1 Random samples of cases were taken in December 2012 to explore:

  • The proportion of cases that could retrospectively be identified as committed online.
  • The information that was held in those online cases regarding the characteristics of offenders and the nature of their offences.

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