A BBC article on 24 June 2014 states a senior officer has told them that social media crime makes up “at least half” of a front-line police officer’s work. In addition to this, 6,000 officers were being trained to deal with online offences.
The recent case like Paul Chambers demonstrates some of the issues. Mr Chambers was initially convicted by a Crown Court for his ‘joke’ tweet about blowing up Robin Hood airport in South Yorkshire. This conviction was then quashed after a successful challenge. While his case might seem ludicrous, it’s a warning to everyone. Online impulsivity can have serious consequences.
So what about private messages to an individual? A post on someone’s wall? The police are spending unprecedented proportions of their time weeding out what is just an ‘online disagreement’, and what is something more such as an ‘insult’ or ‘threat’.
It’s important to remember a threat may be a criminal offence. The medium used to threaten is not relevant. The police are encouraging people to use their own initiatives to be safe online. “Common sense” they implore extends to “un-friending” someone on facebook, or reporting the issue to facebook in the first instance.
The College of Policing are drawing together research to quantify how many crimes originate on social media. The results are due over the coming months and I will report on them in our news feed in due course. For now, remember that everything you type on the internet is there for all to see, including a judge …
Luke Cowles, Solicitor
Posted on Thursday, 26th June 2014