'Keyboard warriors' spreading spite are adding to police workload, says top officer

PUBLISHED: 06:45 24 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:14 24 November 2018




Aggressive "keyboard warriors" are burdening police with additional work as officers are forced to investigate spiteful comments being spread on social media.

That is the warning from Suffolk police’s outgoing chief constable, as he reveals the impact technology is having on his constabulary.

Gareth Wilson, who will retire next year after 30 years with the county’s force, said that technological advances during his long career had brought many positive benefits to fighting crime.

Many new systems, like Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR), have helped to catch criminals it would otherwise have been impossible to trace, he said.

But in a column for this newspaper, Mr Wilson said: “Of course technological advances have not all been in society’s favour.

“The era of the keyboard warrior filling social media with both hatred and spite has added to the workload of many officers.

“Their activity ranges from low level comments that cause offence to threats against life.

“The volume of devices and their capacity has also led to challenges for investigators.

“How does an investigator sift through the equivalent of a whole library’s worth of information manually? They simply cannot and we are having to develop technology to deal with the innovations we see.”

He added that technology had presented a “real challenge to the criminal justice system but the basics of being a good copper still form the foundation of what we are all about - integrity, tenacity and the ability to be able to be inclusive with those whom we serve day in, day out”.

Suffolk and Norfolk police joined forces in 2015 to create a new cyber crime unit to combat the rising tide of hi-tech offences.

The unit, based in Halesworth, was set up to deal with changing patterns in crime - with more offences being committed online than ever before.

The police distinguishes between cyber-dependent crime, which includes spreading viruses and hacking into computer networks, and cyber-enabled crimes - where computers help to spread more traditional crimes such as fraud, scams, blackmail and extortion.

Those who believe they are a victim of either type of cyber crime should call Suffolk police on 101.

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