POLICE in Burton are praising the use of social media in the fight to tackle criminals.
East Staffordshire police have already taken to Twitter to tweet their delight over social networking sites, adding that recent crimes in the town may not have been detected without them.
Inspector Rob Neeson also described social media as ‘a massive tool’ in preventing crime and keeping the public informed of incidents.
In one tweet, the force said: “I remember a long time ago investigating similar crimes but never getting a result. I wish we had the same twitter facility then.”
A later Tweet said: “The recent damage to the cars in Burton would not have been detected without your fantastic help on social media I am convinced.”
Motorists were left counting the cost of damage earlier this month after cars were targeted in Horninglow by someone who is thought to have dug a screwdriver into paintwork, causing hundreds of pounds of damage.
Vehicles were hit in Belvedere Road, Wyggeston Street and Outwoods Street.
Police received 14 reports of vehicle damage but many more are thought to have been hit which have yet to be reported, with posts on social networking sites claiming dozens of cars were targeted.
A 17-year-old boy was later charged in connection with the criminal damage and will appear in court next month.
Twitter and Facebook have been subjected to misuse from people who think they are somehow protected from prosecution because they are writing something online.
And while, in that respect, it could be a hindrance to police, the force has praised its use.
Inspector Rob Neeson, of Burton police, said: “We can use social media to communicate with friends but it’s also a massive tool for us to help prevent crime.
“People are not only telling police about what they see but they’re warning others too and that’s also a big help in guiding us to where incidents are happening.
“The recent spate of vehicle damage is a good example where people rallied together to keep a check on what was happening.
“Social media is a positive thing in that we can use the information given to us and target criminals.”