This story appeared in a number of the national newspapers and caught my eye. A school liaison officer in Reading has engaged a 'volunteer teenager' to scour Facebook for bullying and inappropriate remarks and this could end up with the 'offenders' being sent a warning or possibly arrested. My best guess would be this officer wants to make a name for himself for some reason. I think we have better things to do.
I recall about 8 years ago one of my officers received a complaint as he declined to deal with some silly remarks on a website, I forget the name of the site but something just prior to Facebook. I went to see the complainant, who wanted the police to go and speak to a boy who was making stupid remarks about his son. They were both about 13 and at the same school. Real juvenile stuff. I suggested that he go and speak to the boys parents. He didn't want to do this as he was unsure as to what response he would get. I suggested he tried and if he got a poor response we would reconsider. No, he wanted the police to do it. I declined and ended up with a complaint too.
You will see from the article that Reading police alone receive about 240 complaints a year of online harassment or abuse on Facebook. Nationally, obviously, it is thousands of crimes. All of these have to be recorded and investigated or we will be castigated by the National Audit Office (This QUANGO is soon to be scrapped.) Add to this all the thousands of 'crimes' we have to record because of threatening and abusive e-mails and texts (that the underclass, largely, cannot avoid sending to each other) and you will understand that we are spending thousands of hours dealing with petty juvenile abuse that is inappropriate for the police and courts.
I do understand that bullying and harassment can have very tragic consequences and persistent and serious cases will still have to be dealt with by the police. I think the Government as part of the 'Big Society' needs to review whole areas of work that the police have had to take on because of shortcomings elsewhere and unrealistic expectations. There should be a clear expectation that individuals, the websites, parents and schools deal with this sort of low level antisocial behaviour and the police focus on real offenders.
6 months ago