Hate preachers who use social media to peddle their extreme views could face tougher sentences under new proposals being considered.
Influential figures who enjoy large followings on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube could face up to six years in prison if found guilty of inciting violence or hatred.
The move, which is currently being considered by the government, is aimed at giving more powers to the courts when dealing with people convicted of serious public order offences.
It will allow the courts to hand out tougher punishments to those in a position of trust, authority or influence and who use their profile to stir up hatred.
Those who incite serious violence or persistently offend could also face the tougher new maximum sentence being considered.
Hamza was convicted of stirring up racial hatred in 2006 and was subsequently extradited to the United States where he was jailed for life for terrorism offences.
Faisal was also convicted of stirring up racial hatred after urging his followers to murder Jews, Hindus and Christians. He was eventually deported to Jamaica.
But there has been concern expressed that the explosion in the use of social media is increasingly providing a platform for extremists to stir up hatred against people or groups on the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation.
Where inflammatory material is deemed to fall short of anti-terror legislation, the perpetrator could still be jailed for a public order offence, with a maximum sentence of six years being proposed in the most serious cases
The draft guidelines, published today (Wed), will now be open to a period consultation with the public having until August to put their views forward.
The Sentencing Council stated: “Among the cases analysed there were a number of ‘hate speech’ type offences, where inflammatory speeches were given by
influential figures with the intention of stirring up racial hatred.
“Other cases involved publication on YouTube of content inciting serious violence towards particular racial or religious groups, websites being published including abusive and insulting content, with some activity continuing over a long period of time and intended to reach global audiences
“The council considers that activities of the type listed represent the highest level of culpability for these offences, as they demonstrate a serious intention to stir up hatred towards particular groups.”
The document went on: “Given the recent social climate and an enhanced focus on this type of offending, the council considers it would be useful for sentencers to be equipped with guidance on sentencing these offences.”
The proposals were outlined in wide-ranging examination of the sentencing around public order offences.
Other crimes covered by the proposals include rioting, violent disorder and affray.
According to the Home Office there was a 29 per cent increase in recorded hate crimes between 2016 and 2017.
Sentencing Council member Judge Sarah Munro QC said: “Our courts need to help ensure the protection of the public from these violent offences.
“The guidelines we are proposing will ensure that courts have comprehensive guidance for dealing with the great range of offending from large-scale riots to low-level disorder.”
Responding to the publication of the consultation, Rory Stewart, the justice minister, said: “We need much clearer rules on how to deal with public disorder. Too often people are threatening and intimidating the public.The police and the courts need to be able to respond firmly and clearly.”