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Friday, 25 July 2014

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More than 150 crimes in Cumbria linked to social media

More than 150 crimes in Cumbria have been linked to Facebook and Twitter.

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Cumbria police have also revealed that one of the most common crimes reported to them is ‘offences against the person’.

And 41 of these offences related to Facebook in some way last year.

Police say there have been 152 reports of crime which have related to Facebook and Twitter since 2011.

Officers are now warning social media users to be careful about what they post online as they launch a major cybercrime campaign.

It comes amid increasing reports of social media being used to harass, threaten and victimise others.

Detective Superintendent Andrew Slattery, of Cumbria police, says social networking is rapidly becoming a target for would-be criminals.

“Due to the nature of the sites it is often easy to gather personal data from a profile and use this to commit fraud, identity theft, or harassment,” he said.

He also warns that some people could become vulnerable to crime if they post personal information online, such as when they will be away from home or high-value purchases.

Other applications, including cyclists who use GPS to log and share training rides, could also carry unexpected risks.

Det Supt Slattery says doing this may inadvertently reveal where expensive bicycles are, unless privacy settings are carefully applied.

It is vital to check security settings and be careful about what is posted online to protect against becoming a victim of crime, he added.

“While social media allows us to share our views and opinions there are limits to what is acceptable and what could be construed as unlawful,” Det Supt Slattery said.

“Users should think before posting and ask themselves whether their post could be construed as bullying, racist, homophobic or offensive in any other way.

“Even if a post is meant to be humorous or light hearted it may be viewed by others who are offended or intimidated by it. If in doubt – don’t post it.”

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes welcomed the week-long campaign, which is aimed at raising awareness about potential dangers in social networking.

He said: “It is really important that people take these simple steps to protect themselves.

“The young in particular should understand that an entry on Facebook now can stay there forever.”

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