British police may have to employ ‘Twitter Squads’ if crimes involving social networks continue to rocket, a top cop has warned.
New figures have revealed that complaints of crimes involving Facebook and Twitter have increased 780 percent in four years, resulting in more than 650 people being charged this year.
According to the statistics released by 29 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales under the Freedom of Information Act, the phenomenon of social networking crime was comparatively minor in 2008 with 556 reports made to police.
According to the Daily Mirror, Chief Constable Andy Trotter, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on communications, said the figures demonstrate a new challenge. He said that it is important that forces prioritize social networking crimes which cause genuine harm, rather than attempting to curb freedom of expression, the report said.
He said that it is a new world for all and they could end up in a situation where each constabulary needs a dedicated Twitter squad. Police forces were asked to provide the number of crime reports in which either Facebook or Twitter was a key factor.
According to the report, this included offences committed on the sites, such as posting abusive messages, and those which were provoked by postings, including violent attacks. A total of 653 people faced criminal charges over the allegations this year, according to the forces which responded.
Great Manchester Police charged the highest number of people, at 115. There were also numerous sexual offences, including grooming, complaints of stalking, allegations of racially aggravated conduct and reports of fraud, the report added.