Lincolnshire Police say there will be ‘no further action’ taken against members of UKIP that were accused of making racist posts on the internet.
Officers have been carrying out investigations in the past few months into members of UKIP, including county leader Chris Pain.
The allegations included complaints that they posted comments, including those of a racist nature, on to social media sites, such as Facebook, and ‘caused or reinforced racial hatred’.
Coun Pain won the Wainfleet and Burgh ward at May’s Lincolnshire County Council elections and leads the UKIP opposition group. He will stand to try to become Boston and Skegness MP at the 2015 General Election.
He and Boston North councillor Tiggs Keywood-Wainwright were accused by campaign group Hope Not Hate of posting ‘racist rants’.
Although the investigation largely centred on alleged posts made by Coun Pain, The Standard understands material from Coun Keywood-Wainwright – who won a by-election in Fenside last week – was also looked at.
A senior detective has reviewed the evidence and decided that no further action will be taken by police against either Mr Pain or the other UKIP members accused.
A spokesman said: “Lincolnshire Police take all allegations of hate crime extremely seriously and, where appropriate, will refer these matters to the Crown Prosecution Service, who, in our experience, take an equally serious stance.
“Police are reliant on there being a sufficient amount of evidence, of a quality which would support a decision to prosecute anyone suspected of carrying out crimes of this nature.
“When dealing with internet based activity there has to be an audit trail which enables us to prove the person who is suspected of displaying information on the Web is actually the person pressing the computer keys.
“There are many factors which make such an investigation very complex. Officers must work with the powers granted under specific legislation and, where the servers and the administration of the sites falls outside the United Kingdom, the police and other enforcement agencies are often unable to obtain the relevant information needed to prove who placed comments or information on one of the sites. This is particularly the case with the main social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook.
“In the world of increasingly technical equipment and expertise, it is always possible for false profiles to be created and information to be posted on a user’s account without their knowledge.
“In such cases, it is very difficult for police to trace the origins of the information and to be sufficiently certaint that the person alleged to be displaying some comment or information actually did so.”
Lincolnshire Police DI Andy Wardell said: “This problem is exacerbated when the social network account is closed by an individual who has either become aware or is directly made aware by someone that comments have been seen and the informant is going to contact the police.
“Fictional police and CSI shows often depict investigations where information in cyber space can be traced instantly but the reality is very different.
“Therefore, if any person discovers information displayed or comments posted to social networking sites which they feel are racist ,or made with the intent of stirring up racism, they should inform the police immediately and not post responses or enter into dialect with the individual believed to have made such racist comments.
“Doing so will inevitably result in the comments being removed and the account closed making it impossible to achieve a satisfactory result with any investigation.”