Social Media Crime On The Up

5 June 2015, 07:16 | Updated: 5 June 2015, 07:17

Social Media

Soaring numbers of alleged crimes on Facebook and Twitter are being investigated by police, new figures have revealed.

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

:: Bedfordshire Police said 355 crime reports mentioned Facebook in 2014, up from 210 in 2013 and 170 in 2012. Twenty-three crime report mentioned Twitter last year, compared with 16 in 2013 and eight in 2012.

:: Hertfordshire Constabulary said 984 crime reports mentioned Facebook in 2014, up from 693 in 2013 and 651 in 2012. There were also 139 complaints mentioning Twitter In 2014, compared with 139 in 2013 and 70 in 2012.

:: Northamptonshire Police said 651 crime reports mentioned Facebook or Twitter in 2014, up from 470 in 2013 and 386 in 2012.

:: Thames Valley Police revealed the number of crime reports which mentioned Facebook fell from 488 in 2013 and 307 in 2012 to 301 in 2014. However, crime reports mentioning Twitter rose from 22 in 2012 and 25 in 2013 to 31 in 2014.

The National Policing Chiefs' Council (NPCC) 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 by the Press Association under the Freedom of Information Act.

Britain's largest force, the Metropolitan Police, received 1,207 crime reports which mentioned the social networking site in 2014, up from 935 in 2013 and 997 in 2012.

There was also a sharp rise in crime reports which included Twitter, from 105 in 2013 to 138 in 2014, the Met revealed.

Most forces reported a rise in the number of crime reports where the sites appeared, although many pointed out that their figures did not always mean social media was used as a "tool'' to commit an offence.

For example, a person might have been viewing Facebook when their mobile phone was stolen or initial contact between an attacker and a victim may have been on social media.