Facebook and Twitter crimes on the up in South Yorkshire

Police news...
Police news...

South Yorkshire Police investigated an increase in crimes connected to Facebook and Twitter last year, new figures reveal.

The force received reports of 94 offences involving Facebook and eight involving Twitter.

The Facebook incidents rose from 66 in 2013 and 35 in 2012.

And the Twitter incidents rose from six in 2013 and one in 2012.

Nationally, thousands of complaints involving social media networks were reported to forces across the UK last year, including allegations of sexual offences, threats to kill and harassment.

The National Policing Chiefs’ Council said police and internet providers had a ‘responsibility’ to protect people online, while Facebook insisted it did not tolerate abusive behaviour and urged users to report illegal activity.

A total of 38 out of 45 forces reported a rise in the number of crime reports where Facebook appeared in 2014, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

Detective Inspector Steve Leach, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Cyber crime and offences committed online is a growing issue nationally for police.

“There are a range of offences that can be committed using social media including harassment and bullying and it often goes unreported.

“However, the statistics gathered from this request could also involve crimes such as thefts and assaults which don’t necessarily involve social media as tool to commit the offence.

“South Yorkshire Police is working hard to understand the demand and tackle ‘cyber-crime’ offences and is working with partner agencies to encourage reporting and increase awareness of this type of crime.”

Suptintendent Paul Giannasi, of the NPCC’s hate crime working group, said: “We are working with industry partners and others to try to tackle the level of abuse, harassment and other offensive content on social media, but we have to balance the right to free speech with the need to protect individuals from targeted abuse.

“There have been a number of successful prosecutions against people posting offensive and abusive messages, including under new legislation making revenge pornography illegal. In some cases this has led to the offender being imprisoned.

“There is a responsibility on police and internet providers to protect people online.

“Anyone who feels that they are being harassed on social media should report it to the police via the dedicated True Vision website so that we can investigate it fully.”

A Facebook spokesman said the company responds to appropriate requests from police to provide information about illegal activity to help ensure the site remains a safe place.

The social networking giant said it does not tolerate abusive behaviour and operates a ‘real name’ policy so that people are accountable for their actions.

Facebook describes itself as ‘highly self-regulating’and the website encourages its 1.3 billion users to report content they find upsetting or which breaks the site’s community standards, the spokesman said.