Police urge online caution

Peel Crime Prevention Unit Sergeant Paul Trimble is warning about the risk of posting false information about crime on social media sites such as Facebook. Picture: Elle Borgward d417758
Peel Crime Prevention Unit Sergeant Paul Trimble is warning about the risk of posting false information about crime on social media sites such as Facebook. Picture: Elle Borgward d417758

Sgt Trimble told the Courier this week that many social media crime pages, including those found on Facebook, falsely claimed to have police involvement.

‘Unless the information is coming from Crime Stoppers or police crime pages, people need to be cautious about what is being posted and what is actually factual,’ he said.

‘These pages can cause trouble down the track, especially if the posts are one-sided stories and identifying individuals who may be innocent.’

A Rockingham Crime Reports and Community Prevention Facebook spokesman, who did not want his name published, said he believed social media had become the most effective way to tackle local crime.

The site started in February last year and has already attracted 16,000 likes.

He said the social media page monitored crime statistics provided by police.

‘Residents are always asked to call police to report crimes but a lot have expressed dissatisfaction with the response centre at police headquarters and say police either don’t show up or don’t take the report seriously,’ he said.

‘Police have been made aware of who owns the page and admins have on occasions assisted police with their inquiries when asked to.

‘Police refer to crime pages as Facebook (FBI) investigators because crimes are being solved faster since they started being posted on crime pages.’

However, Sgt Trimble argued social media sites did not influence police operations but said some social media sites had assisted police in the past. He said some figures on some sites were ‘grossly misrepresented’.

‘The misinformation and untruths can be put to rest if people utilise the new Ewatch program,’ he said. The program was launched last year by WA police and Neighbourhood Watch.

Go to Ewatch.com.au