The members of Sheffield's notorious Parson Cross Crew gang, named after a council estate in the city, were convicted of firearms offences.Oh, wow! The ‘power of the Internet’, eh?
The prosecution was made possible by a community campaigner who also used the power of the internet to hit back at the gangsters blamed for ruining the lives of law-abiding residents.
Did she sit in front of her screen, press ‘Go’ in her browser and shout ‘By the power of Internet!’..?
But I digress. She obviously has better webskillz than the Sheffield rozzers, and she certainly got results:
Using the pseudonym Morag Kendo, she searched social networking websites such as Bebo to find dozens of photos of the gang members.Once someone else had done all the hard work for them…
Her findings were published on a Facebook site called 'Sheffield Against Violent Crime: The Parson Cross Crew Named and Shamed', and police were able to use the pictures as evidence.
Other shocking gang photos were found on the web following the murder of 18-year-old Dale Robertson in September last year by Parson Cross Crew members.Presumably because they already had more than enough evidence…
One of his killers, Reece Mendez, 18, posed brazenly with a spiked baton, knife and knuckle duster, but prosecutors decided not to use the images as 'bad character' evidence in his trial.
But it seems the anonymous community campaigner has put some unwelcome ideas into their heads as a result of this work:
Superintendent Andy Barrs, who heads South Yorkshire Police's efforts to tackle guns and gangs, said police were 'pushing for legislation around websites', including a specific offence of displaying weapons.Eh…?
Why? They didn’t need it to prosecute these people, as can be seen from the guilty verdicts.
So, why the sudden need for yet another pointless law?
He said: 'The message from us is that anyone who openly parades with weapons on the internet should expect a call, in the form of officers executing an early morning search warrant with forced entry.'And just how is that going to work?
If I go abroad – say, to the US – and have a day out at a gun club, pose with some Uzis and post my holiday snaps to Flickr, all perfectly legal and harmless, can I expect a posse of plod at my door on my return?
Andy Barrs, you’re an authoritarian, power-hungry cretin of the first order!
Still, there’s always a job opportunity for someone in any crisis, it seems:
Following her success, South Yorkshire Police advertised for a 'gang enforcement team researcher' on a salary of £18,700 to £21,300 whose job would include searching websites to find postings by gang members about crimes.Are you telling me that, amongst all the staff in South Yorkshire Police, no-one’s able to do what this woman did as part of their current job? They need another post to be created in order to handle it?
We’re being taken for mugs here…