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Social media related crime increases 780% in four years

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By Gillian West, Social media manager

December 27, 2012 | 2 min read

According to police figures social media crimes have increased by 780 per cent in the last four years.

The number of allegations relating to Facebook and Twitter has increased nearly eight-fold, with 653 people charged in 2012 out of 4,908 offence reported to 29 forces across Scotland, England and Wales.

Offences included those committed on websites, including the posting of abuse messages, and also violent attacks committed in real-life but provoked by online posts.

As well as menacing and threatening comments, there were also a number of complaints of stalking, racially aggravated conduct, reports of fraud, grooming and sexual offences.

The figures follow interim guidelines which were issued last week in a bid to reduce the number of charges in England and Wales, after a number of controversial court cases.

Released under the Freedom of Information Act, figures from 2008 - when social media activity was much lower - showed 46 people charged from 556 reports of alleged crimes.

Andy Trotter, chief constable of the Association of Chief Police Officers, commented: "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."

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