Saturday, December 29, 2012
5,000 people investigated by British police for something they said on Facebook or Twitter as 'social network crime' soars 800%
Reports of crimes involving Facebook and Twitter - such as posting abusive messages, grooming and complaints of stalking - have increased eight-fold in four years.
The figures show 653 people were charged for social networking crime in 2011 alone.
Police forces said there has been a wide variety of offences via the social media platforms, with harassment and menacing messages among the most common.
Civil liberties campaigners said the statistics demonstrate how some police forces had 'lost all proportion' in dealing with social media complaints.
They added that the figures reveal how poorly some police forces have dealt with complaints about comments made online.
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: 'These figures show just how badly some police forces had lost all proportion when dealing with social media.
'So many arrests was clearly undermining freedom of speech and while the new guidance should reduce the problem, hundreds of people now have criminal records for the rest of their lives when it is far from clear they should do.
'The law around speech crimes is still in need of a total overhaul as the legislation that led to some of the more absurd prosecutions remains in place.'
Chief Constable Andy Trotter, the Association of Chief Police Officers’ lead on communications, said forces must prioritise crimes which cause genuine harm, rather than attempting to curb freedom of expression.