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Three arrests per day

Three. That’s the incredible average number of arrests UK police are making every day for “petty squabbles”, according to a report in the Daily Mail:

New figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday show that at least three arrests are being made every day for sending offensive messages via phones and computers, including people harassing ex-partners by text message and making hoax threats as well as comments on social media.

An officer from Essex who asked not to be named said: ‘I dread to think how many hours are spent on Facebook jobs. If you don’t do at least one a day it’s been a very quiet day.’

If it wasn’t obvious before, learning how to modify privacy settings and use ‘block’ features on social networking platforms is essential. But even that advice is being ignored by some:

When officers told the man to simply stop using Facebook,  he replied: ‘But then I can’t see what they are saying about me.’ …

An officer from the West Midlands told how he had advised someone complaining of Facebook abuse to ‘unfriend’ their abuser, only to be told: ‘But I won’t have as many friends.’

What? Actively choosing not to avoid offensive material and then turning to police for protection from it is utterly irrational. Some things that are said online, particularly behind the veil of anonymity, are indeed awful. But law enforcement resources are scarce. Wasting police time over spats on Facebook and Twitter means that more serious offences are ignored.

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