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  1. ITV Report

150 internet trolls jailed in 2014 as convictions soar

1,209 people were found guilty of 'trolling' offences in 2014 Photo: Dominic Lipinski / PA Wire

Conviction rates for internet trolls have increased eightfold in a decade, according to official figures.

In 2014, 1,209 people were found guilty of offences under Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 - equivalent to three every day - compared with 143 in 2004. 155 were put behind bars, up from a mere seven in 2004, with an average jail time of 2.2 months.

1,501 people were prosecuted in total, including 70 juveniles, and a further 685 accepted cautions.

It is a crime under the Act to send "by means of a public electronic communications network" a message or other material that is "grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character".

Professor Lilian Edwards, director of the Centre for Internet Law and Policy at the University of Strathclyde, said the rise in prosecutions under Section 127 reflected the surge in use of social media.

Peter Nunn bombarded Labour politician Stella Creasy with abusive messages Credit: Anthony Devlin / PA Wire

"This was a relatively obscure provision before the internet. You would have been talking about poison telephone calls and there were relatively few of those," she said.

"It is obviously related to what has happened with social media."

Labour MP Stella Creasy has spoken of the "misery" caused after a Twitter troll retweeted menacing posts threatening to rape her and branding her a "witch".

Other victims of trolling have included campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and Chloe Madeley, daughter of Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan.