The messages were traced to three teenagers aged between 15 and 16 from Crystal Palace in London, after they tweeted what has been described as “vile and explicit” homophobic messages about Brighton and Hove Albion football supporters.
The messages appeared on the social networking site Twitter in August this year.
PC Darren Balkham, Sussex Police Football Liaison officer monitors football intelligence at Brighton games. He believes education can be the better option rather than punishment.
“If we use the criminal justice system for everything then it isn’t actually an education, it gives people a criminal record.”
“We had one victim who was especially distressed by what was said and she said community resolution was the way to deal with this.
“The victim was a lady who had been bullied as a child. She was very upset by the homophobic tweets.
“Arresting them would leave them with a possible criminal record and maybe ruin their lives, all for the sake of complete ignorance and stupidity.”
Chris Cooke, Chairman of the LGBT Community Safety Forum criticised this approach.
”We are supposed to have a zero tolerance to Hate Crime in this city but the police are clearly taking a softly-softly approach.
“If these had been racist messages then there would have been arrests rather than a slap on the wrist.”
Billie Lewis, Vice Chair of the Safety Forum told the BBC:
“A stronger message needs to come from the top”
“A slap on the wrist is no good.”
In February this year, Brighton & Hove Albion signed up to the Governments National Charter against homophobia in sport. At the time Chris Basiurski, chairman of the Gay Football Supporters’ Network, said the charter was a start for clubs to show a commitment to tackling homophobia. He welcomed the charter but urged caution.
“The charter is a start for clubs to show a commitment to tackling homophobia, but they need to put some policies in place to make sure it isn’t just a meaningless piece of paper.”