Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Catching criminals with social media

Modern police are to be taught on the use of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook to catch criminals. As if we needed any further evidence that the old school concept of seeing bobbies on the beat was fast fading away.

Deputy Chief Constable Nick Gargin – acting head of the National Policing Improvement Agency – told the BBC that the move is “exactly what detectives need to tackle the challenges and complexities of modern policing effectively”.

Will such training courses include modules on “How to friend a felon” or “How to search Facebook users for people who list murder, paedophilia and drug dealing amongst their hobbies”. Will police detectives be sending out tweets or status updates along the lines of “If you know who murdered [insert victim's name here] please get in touch”. I wait with bated breath.

I’m obviously being tongue in cheek. Or am I? Does life imitate art, or art imitate life? Maybe this concept will finally put that question quietly to bed. If you’re an avid Daily Mail reader, you will no doubt have been brainwashed into believing that all of the world’s ills stem from the Internet, and that all social networking sites are inhabited solely by child abusers. The first thing I would say is – start reading another newspaper. The second thing I would say is – while I may be joking about the concept of police officers using social networking sites, I do believe that there is a strong case for its use.

In August 2010 Ian Green set up 11 Facebook accounts to distribute up to 100,000 indecent images of children.

In September 2010 Michael Williams – a postman form Cornwall - was jailed for eight and a half years after he admitted 27 charges of using Facebook and Bebo to abuse hundreds of children.

So while the idea of using social networking sites may not on the face of it seem to have any direct relevance to catching criminals, a closer inspection reveals that in fact it most certainly does.

To put all those Daily Mail readers straight – not all social networking users are child abusers – despite what you might have read to the contrary. Social networking sites are simply the new, modern means for such people to target , groom and abuse their victims.

If this idea is successful and results in the capture of criminals, then maybe it deserves to be “Liked” and Retweeted!

No comments:

Post a Comment