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Social media crime on the rise in county

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Online abuse has landed dozens of people on the wrong side of the law, after hundreds of crimes were allegedly committed on the internet.

Lancashire Police received 264 Facebook-related crime reports in 2013 – up from 250 in 2012.

Twitter-related crime complaints increased from three to 10 across the same period.

The information, provided by think-tank Parliament Street, uncovered crime figures “which in some way relate to the internet site Facebook and/or Twitter” at 25 police forces in England and Wales.

Professor of organisational psychology and health at Lancaster University, Cary Cooper, said the findings show more education is needed when using social media.

He added: “If people have some angst they can off-load all their feelings and anger on somebody else.

“A lot of people think it’s a safe way to do it – but they are mistaken. I think we are going to get more of that. Social media is a way of getting rid of a lot of anger.”

In October 2012, Azhar Ahmed from West Yorkshire, was found guilty of sending grossly offensive communication on Facebook relating to soldiers two days after the death of St Annes soldier Sgt Nigel Coupe, who was killed in Afghanistan.

Ahmed was handed a two-year community order.

Earlier this year, Blackpool singer Linda Nolan was targeted by trolls on Twitter after appearing on Celebrity Big Brother.

Prof Cooper added much of the abuse stems from social discontent.

“We have to alert young people or else there will be a free-for-all,” he added.

“I think we have to remember there is a massive recession.

“A lot of people are unemployed. There is a lot of anger out there. But they (abusers) do not think about the consequences.”

Lancashire Police did not wish to comment.

Twitter and Facebook - online crime figures

Hampshire Police revealed the highest number of reported abuse cases relating to Facebook.

Across 2011, 2012 and 2013, 2,776, 3,296 and 3,681 incidents were reported to officers.

The lowest reported figures were for Cheshire Police, with 27, 19 and 40.

Kent Police showed the highest number of Twitter incidents, with 540, 538 and 626 crimes reported between 2011 and 2013.

Sussex Police reported no Twitter-related crime in the three-year period.

 

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