Friday, 28 December 2012

At least 653 charged with Social Media Crimes in 2012

On December 27 2012 BBC Radio 4 News at 6 reported that at least 653 people have been charged with crimes relating to the social media sites Facebook and Twitter.

The statistics were accessed by the Press Association News Agency under freedom of information legislation. The statistics themselves came from just over half of the legal forces from England, Wales and Scotland.

The 29 police forces recorded almost 5000 incidents between January and November 2012 in which Facebook or twitter was a factor.

These figures indicate a huge rise in the number of complaints made to police due to social media activity. The BBC News team stated that it represented a rise of  780% over a 4 year period; a time which has ostensibly seen a massive uptick in social media usage.

Of the 29 police forces 18 provided details relating to the number of criminal charges that were delivered: a total of 653.

Among the most common complaints made to the police were of harassment and menacing messages.

Chief constable Andy Trotter of the Association of Chief Police Officers welcomed the recent guidance delivered by the DPP and echoed the belief that there should be a high threshold before any sort of police intervention. He added that people should be free to communicate even if their messages were obnoxious.

The big thing to remember here is that the figures relating to the number of people charged with social media crimes represents only a fraction - around a third - of police activity in England, Scotland and Wales. Around a half of police forces (29 in total) provided information on the number of complaints made, and then only 19 police forces provided information on the number of charges made for social media crimes. 

You can read more from the BBC on this, here.

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