A British police official says around half the calls (incidents) with front-line officers involve comments made over social media.
The revelation came from Alex Marshall (pictured), the head of the College of Policing, which oversees training of new officers. He was speaking on the BBC’s Law In Action radio show.
According to Marshall,
According to Marshall, a police officer spends a typical day dealing with a dozen incidents or “calls.” Of these, at least half will involve social media, for example with antisocial behavior, abuse or threats of assault.
One officer quoted by the BBC noted that although originating online, these are largely “traditional” offenses involving personal disputes, harassment and bullying; it’s simply that they are in some ways easier to report as they no longer involve people having to confront one another in person.
However, another officer said that while such disputes may always have happened, in the past most incidents wouldn’t have led to calls to the police.
Marshall noted that official police statistics don’t have a separate category for online incidents and instead simply list each case by the alleged offense. He believes this makes it harder to get a read on exactly how significant the problem is.
According to Marshall, the pattern isn’t just a problem because it ties up police resources. He said that both the general public and police officers are still getting to grips with the issue of when an incident that takes place, or originates, online becomes a criminal offense and/or requires police involvement.
(Image credit: College of Policing)