Police figures show there were 4,908 reports in which Facebook and Twitter were a factor, compared with 556 in 2008.
Complaints to police
about alleged crimes linked to the use of Facebook and Twitter have
increased by 780% in four years, resulting in about 650 people being
charged last year, figures show.
The phenomenon of social
networking crime was comparatively minor in 2008 with 556 reports made
to police, according to the statistics released by 29 police forces in
England, Scotland and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act. This
year there were 4,908 reports in which the two sites were a factor.
constable Andy Trotter, of the Association of Chief Police Officers,
said the figures demonstrated a new challenge. It was important that
forces prioritised social networking crimes that caused genuine harm,
rather than attempting to curb freedom of expression, he said.
is a new world for all and we could end up in a situation where each
constabulary needs a dedicated Twitter squad. In my opinion, that would
not be a good use of resources in difficult financial times. We need to
accept that people have the right to communicate, even to communicate in
an obnoxious or disagreeable way, and there is no desire on the part of
the police to get involved in that judgment.
"But equally, there are many offences involving social media
such as harassment or genuine threats of violence which cause real
harm. It is that higher end of offending which forces need to
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