THREE girls arrested after a teenager was filmed being viciously attacked in Blackburn town centre have been bailed.
The video showed a girl allegedly having her hair pulled, being kicked, and punched in the face.
Last night the girls had been widely named on social media sites, an action slammed by Blackburn MP Jack Straw who said people were breaking the law by revealing the identities.
Two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old were arrested on suspicion of assault on Monday evening after the assault earlier that day.
The 15-year-old girl was also held on suspicion of aiding and abetting.
All three have now been bailed until March 4.
The social media profiles of the girls, one of whom is believed to be from Burnley, have attracted hundreds of comments, which could now be investigated by police.
Some called on the girls involved to kill themselves, whilst others threatened to petrol bomb their houses.
One poster said he had an address for one of the girls, and said ‘I will come for you.’ Others voiced their outrage at unfounded rumours the girls had been cautioned by police.
Jack Straw, former Minister for Justice, said: “These are serious allegations but the law quite rightly protects the identities of young people under the age of 17.
“And it’s wrong for people to use social media sites to take the law into their own hands. “The legal protection of young people is right, because youngsters do stupid things, which should not hang on them until adulthood, unless it’s extremely serious.
“If the law is to be changed, it’s a matter for Parliament, not for vigilantes.”
The use of social networking sites saw the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) issue guidelines to the public last year.
The guidelines said: “Any communication via social media that may breach a court order falls to be considered under the relevant legislation, including the Contempt of Court Act 1981.”
It is illegal to publish anything that could prejudice a fair trial when criminal proceedings are active, which is usually once a suspect has been arrested.
Children under the age of 18 accused of a crime are given further protection, and are usually granted anonymity.
This means posts on Twitter and Facebook, which appeared to name the girls involved, could be investigated by the police and be held in contempt of court by the Attorney General.
The online comments were being studyed by the Attorney General’s office, and the policing team at Blackburn yesterday.
Inspector Ilyas Mohmed said: “We do not tolerate this kind of behaviour and we will take positive action against anyone who commits these kind of vile attacks.
“I would call on the community not to take matters into their own hands and let us deal with the incident.”
A spokesman for Lancashire Police said officers had been made aware of comments made online and had taken statements from those involved.