Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, have been given 4 years in prison for attempts to incite riots on Facebook during recent disorder in the UK, according to Cheshire Police.The Guardian reports that Blackshaw had set up an event called “Smash Down in Northwich Town”. When he turned up to the arranged meeting place (a McDonald’s) he was arrested by police.
Sutcliffe-Keenan had set up a webpage using Facebook (exactly how isn’t clear) called The Warrington Riots. He deleted it in the morning, explaining it was a joke, but the court was told it had created a wave of panic over the town.
Neither incident actually resulted in any rioting.
Assistant Chief Constable Phil Thompson of Chesire Police said in a statement:
The sentences passed down today recognise how technology can be abused to incite criminal activity and sends a strong message to potential troublemakers about the extent to which ordinary people value safety and order in their lives and their communities. Anyone who seeks to undermine that will face the full force of the law.
The sentences are already being denounced as too harsh.
“Some instances are completely out of all proportion,” Sally Ireland, policy director of the law reform organisation Justice, told the Guardian. “There will be a flurry of appeals although, by the time they have been heard, those sentences may already have been served.”