Big increase in Facebook complaints to Suffolk police

THE number of complaints to Suffolk police about incidents on the social networking site Facebook have soared in the last four years.

Figures have shown a massive rise since 2007/8 when just one alleged offence was dealt with by Suffolk police relating to the popular website.

In 2008/9 there were 14 incidents where the site was referred to, that number jumped to 171 in 2009/10 and in 2010/11 the figure has leapt to 243 offences.

In the last five years Suffolk Constabulary has received a total of 2,350 calls from members of the public where Facebook has been mentioned in relation to an alleged offence.

The calls received were broken down into six categories, administration, anti-social behaviour, crime, licensing, public safety and welfare and transport.

Of the 1,150 calls dealing with anti-social behaviour, 984 recorded malicious or nuisance communications and 132 reported rowdy or inconsiderate behaviour.

Another 411 calls referred to crimes, with 30 reporting sexual offences, 27 reporting criminal damage, seven fraud and forgery and 56 violence against the person.

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Of the 499 calls relating to public safety and welfare, 174 reported concerns for a persons safety, 31 dealt with domestic incidents between adults, 81 concerned suspicious activity and 94 reported missing persons of a high risk.

A Suffolk police spokesman said the leap in the number of incidents was not surprising when compared to the site’s huge popularity.

He said: “The popularity of Facebook has increased massively over the last few years so it is no surprise to see a rise in the number of reported offences where Facebook was referred too.

“We take all reports of on-line crime seriously and recommend that people take precautions to help protect their privacy and enjoy using any social network sites.

“Anyone promoting illegal activity or behaving in a threatening manner should be reported to the service provider, or if someone is in immediate danger then the police should be contacted.”

Chief Inspector Kerry Pauling urged users of the site to ensure they are not revealing more of their personal information than they should.

She said: “Social networking sites represent a real threat of on-line crime and those using them should be aware of the associated risks, such as disclosure of private information, cyber-stalking, cyber-bullying and also the serious risks of loss of privacy and identity theft.

“By taking a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce your chances of becoming a victim of on-line crime.

“Remember, you are in control of how public or how private you want your page to be, so learn how to use the site you have chosen. Use the privacy features the site offers and restrict strangers from accessing your profile.

“Although social networking sites are for sharing it is important to be careful about what information you are sharing and who you are sharing it with.”