Social Media Users Warned About Online Offending

Social media users are being reminded to be responsible for what they say or repost on Facebook and other forums after Cleveland Police has seen a significant rise in the number of offences recorded under the Malicious Communications Act.

The force has also seen a rise in the number of harassment cases where social media, particularly Facebook, has been used.

In the 12 months to January 2017, Cleveland Police recorded 1,268 offences of harassment through the Malicious Communications Act.

This is an increase of 122% when compared with the 12 months to January 2016.  The figures relate to ALL offences of malicious communication which could also cover texting or emailing as well as through social media.

Officers intend to offer age appropriate sessions on internet safety to all schools in the force area and they have already visited some primary and secondary schools within the Stockton Local Policing Area.
The secondary schools have been offered a more comprehensive session covering internet safety, Facebook and other messaging services, internet grooming and internet bullying.   Sessions also cover the taking and sending of inappropriate photos and the consequences of such actions.

Eleven to thirteen year olds also took part in a session which included a video of a woman being groomed and they were given information on who to contact if they experience problems.

Temporary Superintendent Jason Dickson said: “This is a timely reminder to all social media users to remember that anything they post online is their responsibility, as much as if they said it to someone’s face.

“When we speak to offenders, they do seem blissfully unaware that they can commit offences by using Facebook and other social media sites.  They also do not seem to realise the harm and impact their words can have on their victim.”