Social media brings crime fighting to the masses

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Social media is helping in the fight against crime with 219 criminals arrested and charged last year as a result of anonymous information passed by the public.

The advent of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites as a means to spreading messages, has encouraged people to get involved in helping the police across Thames valley.

Crimestoppers, the independent crime-fighting charity, highlighted this growing trend in its latest annual review. Key campaigns, such as one with Post Office Ltd tackling robberies from Transit (CVIT) vehicles, have seen impressive results, with social media proving a key factor in the success.

ulia Hughes, Crimestoppers’ regional manager for Thames Valley said:“Although we cannot take information about crime directly through social media as this would compromise the anonymity of the individual, it is a highly effective platform through which to inform people.

“Social media allows us to drive people swiftly and safely to the Anonymous Online Form hosted on our website where they can pass on information about crime.”

Last year Crimestoppers took over a third of a million calls from members of the public and a similar number of online forms, enabling 101,103 pieces of useful anonymous information to be passed on to law enforcement, leading to 6,242 criminals arrested and charged.

Working alongside regional police forces, the National Crime Agency, and other law enforcement agencies, Crimestoppers provides an invaluable service between these organisations and members of the public who prefer to give information anonymously.

In December, Crimestoppers joined forces with the Insurance Fraud Bureau (IFB) to clamp down on ‘crash for cash’ scams after criminals targeted unsuspecting motorists with staged crashes in order to make insurance claims against them.

These crimes are costing policyholders an estimated £390 million per year, prompting the IFB to join forces with Crimestoppers to find these fraudsters and encourage people to contact the Cheatline anonymously. As a result of the social media campaign and supportive outdoor media activity, information on crash for cash rose by 53% over three months.

In March, the charity’s regional staff and volunteers teamed up with law enforcement agencies and partners to launch a social media campaign to raise awareness of rural crime. With a robust media outreach plan and 22 guest blogs from rural crime experts, the campaign reached millions of people across the UK, trended on Twitter.

Winning ‘Digital Campaign of the Week’ recognition in the charity publication Third Sector, a video was produced featuring sleight of hand experts sliding cards into people’s pockets and bags. These cards were both promotional and informative as they highlighted that if people put items into your pockets and bags without you realising, then they can also take them out. The cards directed the public to www.putpockets.co.uk which outlined the dangers and signs of pickpocketing.

Ms Hughes added: “Crimestoppers is a national charity, locally focused.

Last year we saw anonymous information increase by 14% to 3,521, resulting in an impressive 219 criminals being arrested and charged. Key to our measurable success across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire are the strong working relationships we have developed with local partner agencies and our ability to adapt to local crime issues.

“Working alongside our trusted partners, we will continue to build on the work that we do in local areas and look at new ways of engaging with the public to generate information anonymously and empower these communities and individuals in the fight against crime.”

The review can be found at http://crimestoppersimpact.co.uk/2014/index.htmland on twitter using #socialimpact.