Have the police failed to record the Twitter threats against me?

Police officers told Caroline Criado-Perez that they would collate the necessary information on threatening tweets sent to her. But earlier today, she was told that only individual tweets she had reported were being investigated. She now wonders if it is

I will rape you. Fucking pathetic slut.

I will shove a 3 foot pole in your vagina. You deserve nothing, but pain. 

U fucking spanish dirty hooker. 

 

I had been off Twitter for much of the morning. When I returned, these tweets were just three of a stream of abusive messages I received from a single account earlier today. As has become habit, I screencapped them, and prepared to email them to the police investigating my ongoing case.

But when I looked at my inbox, I found an email already there. It was from a police officer, asking me to approve a statement which he had attached along with some screencapped evidence. I read over the statement and made a few changes. Then I looked at the accompanying evidence, and was surprised to find only two relatively innocuous tweets to me included. I emailed the police officer back, asking why this was, given this particular user had sent me multiple threats from multiple accounts. The response came back: this is all we have from you

How can I describe the way that made me feel? I knew I had sent more than that to the police - far more. I remembered that the police had originally told me I only needed to screencap one threat per account, because they would look into the rest.

It now looks as though not only had they not done that, but they didn't even have the screencaps I had sent them. They were now asking me to go through all the threats I'd received - and relive all the psychological trauma involved - to look for three specific usernames, to see what evidence I had of their abuse. 

It started to dawn on me that, contrary to the advice I'd been given, I should have screencapped and reported every single threat every user sent me, because I needed to have reported it myself for the police to act on it. 

I felt completely hopeless - on the edge of breaking down. The thought of going through the threats all over again was traumatising in itself. I emailed back and said I didn't want to do it.  I asked if they could find a way that I didn't have to go through all the screencaps myself. I asked if they had received the rape threat screen-caps I had just sent them.

They replied telling me what they had and asking me again to review my systems. 

That was two hours ago, and they still haven't responded. And so, purely because I couldn't take the anticipation and the tension anymore, I've done it. I've gone through the screencaps and relived the experience of being told I was going to be gang-raped until I die. I found the ones they wanted and read again about how this particular user was going to find me and kill me - although of course, I haven't found all of them, because I'd been told I didn't need to record them all. I've collated all the threats I do have and created a shared online folder of them. I've sent all this to the police. That was two hours ago. And I've heard nothing.

I have been feeling uneasy for a while about the way my case was being handled. Things had moved achingly slowly from the start. It took four days from the first threat before someone was assigned to my case. The only arrests made had been of people who were so easy to find even I could have tracked them down - or of people where the media had done the work and then informed the police.

There have been no arrests of the many other people who sent me gruesome and graphic death and rape threats, who told me they would mutilate my genitals, burn my flesh while my children watched, rape me until my body fell apart. Given how quickly the media managed to track down my abusers, I had been wondering what had been taking so long, why hadn't I heard anything. Now I'm wondering if it's because the police don't even know about those threats, because I didn't report them individually.

This experience has left me feeling utterly hopeless and powerless. I had always felt like the police didn't really understand the impact this experience had on me. I'd always felt that, while they had seemed perfectly pleasant, they didn't really treat the case with any sense of urgency, of importance. I'd always felt almost apologetic for asking this to be investigated, for letting this affect me so deeply. And now I feel that I was right to feel like that.

Given this experience, given this attitude, given how I've been made to feel, would I report the abuse again?

Frankly, no I wouldn't. I simply don't see the point.

Caroline Criado-Perez, right, on the day of the banknote announcement. Photo: Getty

Caroline Criado-Perez is a freelance journalist and feminist campaigner. She is also the co-founder of The Women's Room and tweets as @CCriadoPerez.

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Is defeat in Stoke the beginning of the end for Paul Nuttall?

The Ukip leader was his party's unity candidate. But after his defeat in Stoke, the old divisions are beginning to show again

In a speech to Ukip’s spring conference in Bolton on February 17, the party’s once and probably future leader Nigel Farage laid down the gauntlet for his successor, Paul Nuttall. Stoke’s by-election was “fundamental” to the future of the party – and Nuttall had to win.
 
One week on, Nuttall has failed that test miserably and thrown the fundamental questions hanging over Ukip’s future into harsh relief. 

For all his bullish talk of supplanting Labour in its industrial heartlands, the Ukip leader only managed to increase the party’s vote share by 2.2 percentage points on 2015. This paltry increase came despite Stoke’s 70 per cent Brexit majority, and a media narrative that was, until the revelations around Nuttall and Hillsborough, talking the party’s chances up.
 
So what now for Nuttall? There is, for the time being, little chance of him resigning – and, in truth, few inside Ukip expected him to win. Nuttall was relying on two well-rehearsed lines as get-out-of-jail free cards very early on in the campaign. 

The first was that the seat was a lowly 72 on Ukip’s target list. The second was that he had been leader of party whose image had been tarnished by infighting both figurative and literal for all of 12 weeks – the real work of his project had yet to begin. 

The chances of that project ever succeeding were modest at the very best. After yesterday’s defeat, it looks even more unlikely. Nuttall had originally stated his intention to run in the likely by-election in Leigh, Greater Manchester, when Andy Burnham wins the Greater Manchester metro mayoralty as is expected in May (Wigan, the borough of which Leigh is part, voted 64 per cent for Brexit).

If he goes ahead and stands – which he may well do – he will have to overturn a Labour majority of over 14,000. That, even before the unedifying row over the veracity of his Hillsborough recollections, was always going to be a big challenge. If he goes for it and loses, his leadership – predicated as it is on his supposed ability to win votes in the north - will be dead in the water. 

Nuttall is not entirely to blame, but he is a big part of Ukip’s problem. I visited Stoke the day before The Guardian published its initial report on Nuttall’s Hillsborough claims, and even then Nuttall’s campaign manager admitted that he was unlikely to convince the “hard core” of Conservative voters to back him. 

There are manifold reasons for this, but chief among them is that Nuttall, despite his newfound love of tweed, is no Nigel Farage. Not only does he lack his name recognition and box office appeal, but the sad truth is that the Tory voters Ukip need to attract are much less likely to vote for a party led by a Scouser whose platform consists of reassuring working-class voters their NHS and benefits are safe.
 
It is Farage and his allies – most notably the party’s main donor Arron Banks – who hold the most power over Nuttall’s future. Banks, who Nuttall publicly disowned as a non-member after he said he was “sick to death” of people “milking” the Hillsborough disaster, said on the eve of the Stoke poll that Ukip had to “remain radical” if it wanted to keep receiving his money. Farage himself has said the party’s campaign ought to have been “clearer” on immigration. 

Senior party figures are already briefing against Nuttall and his team in the Telegraph, whose proprietors are chummy with the beer-swilling Farage-Banks axis. They deride him for his efforts to turn Ukip into “NiceKip” or “Nukip” in order to appeal to more women voters, and for the heavy-handedness of his pitch to Labour voters (“There were times when I wondered whether I’ve got a purple rosette or a red one on”, one told the paper). 

It is Nuttall’s policy advisers - the anti-Farage awkward squad of Suzanne Evans, MEP Patrick O’Flynn (who famously branded Farage "snarling, thin-skinned and aggressive") and former leadership candidate Lisa Duffy – come in for the harshest criticism. Herein lies the leader's almost impossible task. Despite having pitched to members as a unity candidate, the two sides’ visions for Ukip are irreconcilable – one urges him to emulate Trump (who Nuttall says he would not have voted for), and the other urges a more moderate tack. 

Endorsing his leader on Question Time last night, Ukip’s sole MP Douglas Carswell blamed the legacy of the party’s Tea Party-inspired 2015 general election campaign, which saw Farage complain about foreigners with HIV using the NHS in ITV’s leaders debate, for the party’s poor performance in Stoke. Others, such as MEP Bill Etheridge, say precisely the opposite – that Nuttall must be more like Farage. 

Neither side has yet called for Nuttall’s head. He insists he is “not going anywhere”. With his febrile party no stranger to abortive coup and counter-coup, he is unlikely to be the one who has the final say.