Specialist police officers, who are able to access missing peoples social media, have already been declared a ‘fantastic asset’ to the county.

After a hike in council tax by Peter McCall the police and crime commissioner for Cumbria, this extra funding has been used to provide the county with four digital media investigators (DMI) into the command and control room.

The new team are getting four more officers, all with the training to provide 24/7 support with a live investigation that needs specialist cyber and social media skills.

These extra officers have access to more in-depth information such as access to social media accounts, including Snapchat and Whatsapp, of missing people to help find information that may help to find them.

Making the decision to increase council tax was Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, he said: “Raising council tax is always a hard decision to make but I made it knowing that I would be able to provide extra officers for the force including these four, soon-to-be eight, DMIs.

“Our lives are quickly moving online – from social media to online banking – and criminals know that they can target people through these mediums. We need officers to be well equipped in dealing with this type of crime as well as have the skillset to use social media to our advantage to help vulnerable victims.

“These officers will be a fantastic asset to both the Constabulary and the public.

“The DMIs can provide initial advice to victims of cyber-crime on how to best preserve evidence for police use and how to better protect themselves online.

“I would urge anyone that believes they are being targeted online to contact the police on 101 and report any suspicious contact or emails.”

The assistant chief constable, Andrew Slattery, said: “These specialist officers will help in what is becoming a busier and more demanding area of policing.

“One of the challenges in policing is keeping up with changing trends in crime and in society.

“Criminals will exploit any new method available to commit their offences and everyday life increasingly features the use of digital devices and social media.

“This investment helps us stay ahead of criminals and gives us extra skills to keep people safe.”