A detective has warned that social networking sites are increasingly hampering major police investigations.This is apparently due to the ‘gossip factor’ of social media:
Detective Chief Inspector Jes Fry, from Norfolk Police, was speaking after Michael Tucker, 50, was jailed for 26 years at Norwich Crown Court for murdering his partner, Rebecca Thorpe, 28, and hiding her body in a freezer.And isn’t pub gossip just as liable to derail an investigation?
The murder happened in the village of Snettisham and during the original investigation there was widespread speculation on Twitter about the circumstances of the killing. Rumours included untrue speculation that Miss Thorpe had been decapitated.
Mr Fry said the investigation had been a "complex one" which was complicated by the use of social media. He insisted officers were not Luddites and said he regularly used networking sites himself.Bully for you!
But he added: "I would just urge members of the public to exercise caution when talking about a major crime like this. It is the same as gossip down the pub except amplified by thousands of times."Well, quite! It just reaches a wider audience, that’s all. No difference. Instead of Mrs Miggins sharing the details she knows (true and false) with old Ada at the hairdressers, she goes online and shares them with strangers in Brazil, China and Stallion Tackle, Arkansas.
So what? Why is this a problem?
"This kind of misinformation made it difficult to establish whether potential witnesses had read details somewhere or knew them as fact. It also led to rumours which increased the concerns of the local community."I fail to see how the first is altered by social media, yet not by ordinary gossip. If your questioning doesn't include the checking phrase 'Did you actually see/hear this, or are you relating what a third-party told you?' you probably shouldn't be a detective...
And as for the second, what is it that concerns you most, actual crime, or public perception of crime?