Convictions of internet “trolls” in the UK have increased ten-fold in the last decade.
Section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act used to prosecute the sending of “grossly” offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing messages has seen 1,209 people found guilty. Another 685 were cautioned.
In 2004, there were 143 convictions, according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice.
A similar increase in the number of convictions took place under the Malicious Communications Act, which states that it is an offence to send a threatening, offensive or indecent letter, electronic communication or article with the intent to cause distress or anxiety.
Under this law, 694 people were found guilty last year. In 2004, there were 64 convictions.
Section 127 has been increasingly used in recent years due to the surge in the use of social media, although it also covers phone calls and emails.
Public awareness of the problem has intensified after several cases involving prominent individuals came to light, including MP Stella Creasy, campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, and the McCanns.
The Government in October announced increases to the maximum sentence for trolls convicted under the Malicious Communications Act from six months to two years.