Is Social Media the answer to solving crimes?
This morning the Boston Police Force accredited social media for their increase in crime solving.
The Boston Police Department has seen a rise in crime solving tips thanks to social media and the department’s large Twitter following.
The Boston Police Force has more than 39,200 followers on Twitter. Last year they set up a Twitter campaign in which they allowed people to send anonymous messages to the department’s Crime Stoppers Unit. The programme, called Text- a Tip, was set up to reflect peoples increased use of social media sites and mobile phones.
So far Boston Police have received tips about homicides, drug deals, online suicide notes and bomb threats.
Department Spokesperson, Elaine Driscoll, said: “It’s been really amazing for us. Use of Social Media has provided an additional outlet for people to interact with law enforcement.”
Lauri Stevens – founder of LAwS Communications, a consulting company that helps law enforcement agencies expand into social media – said most police departments have been slow to embrace opportunities presented by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Those who have, she said, find that they can communicate quickly with a larger number of residents and that it does not require much extra money or staff.
Stevens said: “It’s an opportunity for law enforcement agencies to have more influence in the conversation about them and their work than they’ve ever had before,’’
Boston Police have even used Twitter to post photographs of suspects using the Twitter hashtag #MostWantedMonday.
Boston Police have also been blogging and posting YouTube videos in an informal chatty style in order to improve their engagement, reputation and interactions with followers. So far this appears to have been largely successful in breaking down the barrier between the police and the public.
The Metropolitan Police Force has a similarly large number of followers, currently standing at 57,120. However they have yet to set up a Text-a-Tip campaign or to adopt an informal style to engage with users.
What do you think about different Police Force’s use of Social Media to solve crimes and do you think that there is the potential for them to do more? Feel free to comment below….