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Chief Constable Mike Bartons Open letter, Harassment and abuse through Social Media.

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I write as the head of an English police force concerned about the increasing amount of time and effort being spent by my officers and staff dealing with harassment and abuse through social media.

 

I note a recent report which cited that the number of people prosecuted or cautioned for sending offensive and threatening messages over social media, phone or email has risen sharply.

 

There was a 40% increase in the number of people charged for “improper use of electronic messages” between 2010 and 2013 in England, from 506 to 708. 

 

During the same period, the number of cautions issued for the same offence rose from 147 to 458.

 

However, this does not tell the full story, as was found in a recent study carried out in my own force.

 

Using the cyber keywords, 2,962 incidents were identified over a three month period during 2014.

 

This averages around 230 cyber related incidents per month. 

 

Key findings showed that online harassment, threats, abuse and bullying accounted for 68% of all incidents with an online element.

 

This data suggests that the Internet is used as a platform to harass, make threats, abuse, bully someone and in some cases the dispute has escalated ‘offline’ and a crime has been committed, for example, criminal damage or violence.

 

As we move towards a more technological dependent society and daily activities such as shopping and reading the news is conducted ‘online’, the way in which we communicate with one another has now moved online, including online insults and harassment. 

 

Indeed, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, recently wrote that Twitter was not the best place to have a row and has called for a ban on online trolls.

 

However, only 8% of online harassment, threats, abuse and bullying reported incidents were recorded as a crime – and that is the real issue we, as a police force, are facing.

 

The challenge for us is distinguishing when these online disputes/insults become a crime.

 

As we attempt to deal with unprecedented cuts in policing, more and more time is spent by my officers dealing with online rows and abuse where we have no real chance of any prosecution.

 

Regularly I am told by beat officers that they are visiting the homes of people whose child has been called names by another child on Twitter or Facebook. It is not a pleasant incident, but is this what the public would like my officers to spend their time doing?

 

Dick Costolo, chief executive of Twitter, has admitted that the company is not doing enough to tackle harassment and abuse, saying “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform.”

 

I welcome this acknowledgement and encourage him to start taking a tougher stance on online troublemakers.

 

I am happy to work to work with him and others to make our cyber world a safer place as it is not an issue we can tackle alone.

 

Put simply, if people can’t behave online then Dick Costolo and his colleagues should remove the privilege of Twitter and other social media channels and kick them off.

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RAF Mildenhall incident is not terror related

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Police investigating an incident at RAF Mildenhall can confirm that the incident is not being treated as terrorism.

A 44 year old British man was initially arrested on suspicion of criminal trespass.

The male, who sustained cuts and bruises in the incident, has been taken into custody. Police are not looking for anyone else on the site in relation to the incident.

There is no wider threat to the public or occupants on the base and no other people have been injured as a result of the incident.

The incident remains a police investigation at this time and enquiries are on-going and police are receiving support from other law enforcement agencies.

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Police Hour readers raise £6k in memory of PC James Dixon who sadly died on duty

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Police Hour readers have raised over £6K in the memory of PC James Dixon who tragically died on duty on December 5th, 2017.

Despite money being tight around this time of the year the Police Hour community has pulled together and raised over £6,000 to support the family of Police Constable James Dixon.

The funds raised will be transferred to the Thames Valley Police Federation once the fundraiser is complete.

James Dixon a road policing officer based at Loddon Valley police station, near Reading, was riding his police motorcycle when he was sadly killed.

We’d like to thank our readers for helping us raise this money that will go a long way to support the family and especially sam his wife and their baby who is on the way.

This money will be used to support Sam his wife and their unborn baby to ensure they are supported.

Police Hour wants to be able to support the families and with the help of our readers, that has been made possible.

Thank you to everyone who has donated and even those who can’t spare any money but helped share the appeal.

If you’d like to help support and raise funds for PC James Dixon please click here to donate. 

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Shots fired as ‘car rams gate’ at US Air Force base in Suffolk

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It has been confirmed that shots have been fired after a car rammed the gates of a US Air Force base in Suffolk.

A man attempted to drive his car to force the vehicle into the barriers at the entrance to the RAF Mildenhall near Bury Sy Edmunds at 1pm on Monday.

Suffolk Police have confirmed that American Service personnel fired shots during the incident and now the site is now placed on lockdown.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that one person has been arrested.

It is believed that a car tried to ram the gates and the base has been placed on lockdown.

Police have asked members of the public to avoid the area for the time being.

Police have released a statement only to confirm they are dealing with an incident

“The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that one person has been arrested.

“It’s been reported that a car tried to ram the gates and the base has been placed on lockdown.

“Police have asked members of the public to avoid the area for the time being.”

Police released a further statement just after 1530 confirming they believed there was no wider threat.

“Police are continuing to deal with an ongoing incident at RAF Mildenhall, it is considered that there is no wider threat to the public or occupants on the base.

“One man has been arrested and police are not looking for anyone else on the site”.

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