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Police call on Twitter community to help catch online criminals

  • @kevinJrawlinson

Police have asked users of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to be their “eyes and ears” in a bid to stop online bullying. Officers want people to report so-called “trolls”, who commit crimes on the internet.

Forces across the country are increasingly trying to get to grips with the new challenges posed by policing online forums and social networks. Recent years have seen a series of high-profile cases in which people have committed crimes on the internet, notably beginning with the widespread outing of super-injunctions and the recent naming of a rape victim.

Officers also want to crack down on online bullying and hate crimes, but lack the resources to effectively police all of the sites on which they could conceivably be committed.

Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, who leads the Association of Chief Police Officers 'e-crime prevention efforts, said: "There is no Facebook squad or Twitter squad. We are not actively going out to catch people who have made inappropriate comments. We're not there to hunt people down."

He added that he thought online communities work best if they are self-regulated without officers needing to get involved. "But where allegations are made we can and do investigate."