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News - 4 January 2013

Huge rise in social media 'crimes'

The number of alleged crimes involving Facebook and Twitter has increased nearly eight-fold in four years, according to police figures. There were 653 people charged in 2012 out of 4,908 offences reported to 29 forces in England, Scotland and Wales. Police chiefs said the figures demonstrate a new challenge.

In December, interim guidelines were issued, aimed at reducing the number of charges in England and Wales, after a string of controversial court cases.

In 2008, when the level of social network activity was much lower, there were 556 reports of alleged crimes with 46 people charged. By this year that figure had risen to 4,908 allegations and 653 charged.

Chief Constable Andy Trotter of the Association of Chief Police Officers said it was important that police prioritised social networking crimes which caused genuine harm.

He said: "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 concentrate on."

For the full story from The BBC, click here.


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