British Police Threaten Prosecution for Anyone Caught Mocking Drug Dealer's Haircut

Police in the U.K. have been forced to remind people that they could be prosecuted for posting offensive or abusive messages online after dozens of social media users mocked the hairstyle of a fugitive.

Gwent Police posted a mugshot of 21-year-old Jermaine Taylor onto Facebook as part of an appeal to help find him. Taylor is being recalled to prison after he breached his license conditions, which were imposed following his release from jail on December 10, 2018.

Taylor had received a three-year sentence after being convicted of being concerned in supplying cocaine in September 2017.

Following the release of the mugshot, a slew of trolls and other Facebook users ridiculed the suspect because of his hair.

"Who done his hair? Moses?" wrote Kelly Rebecca Thomas. "He was last seen in town; Police are combing the area," added Lea Hook.

After the post went viral, Gwent Police posted an update to remind people that they risk prosecution if they take the jokes and memes too far.

"Please remember that harassing, threatening and abusing people on social media can be against the law," the force wrote.

"Our advice is to be as careful on social media as you would in any other form of communication. If you say something about someone which is grossly offensive or is of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, then you could be investigated by the police."

In a follow-up post, Gwent Police thanked those who have assisted in their search for Taylor while admitting they have enjoyed some of the jokes at his expense.

"We're really grateful to everyone who is assisting us in locating Jermaine Taylor, and we must admit a few of these comments have made us laugh," a spokesperson said.

"However, when the line is crossed from being funny to abusive, we do have to make sure we are responsible and remind people to be careful about what they write on social media.

"Thankfully, in the 87,000 comments, this is a very small number and the majority are doing a great job helping us day to day."

Earlier this year, a North Carolina sheriff's department had to ask people to stop mocking the deformity of a suspected drug dealer after his mugshot was posted online following his arrest.

Orlando Lopez, 43, of Palm Coast, Florida, is accused of a string of drug offenses, including trafficking in methamphetamine, trafficking in cocaine and possession with intent to sell and deliver cocaine, after he was arrested by Robeson County Sheriff's Office on Interstate 95 on June 28.

"Even though this individual has been charged for committing a crime, he is still someone's child/family member," the department wrote on Facebook. "It is obvious that he has suffered some type of injury. Please refrain from making jokes/negative comments. Have a blessed day."

Jermaine Taylor
Jermaine Taylor is wanted by police for breaching his licence conditions after being released from prison on 10th December 2018. Gwent Police