One click can help to catch a wanted criminal, find a missing person, or solve a crime. We use Twitter and Facebook to share appeals every day. Today we reached the 100,000 follower milestone on Twitter. We’re celebrating by saying thank you to our audiences for helping us reunite loved ones, trace dangerous criminals, spread awareness of important causes, and even raise a smile.
DCI Simon Crisp, Bristol Investigations, said: “Social media is a powerful tool for our force. We use it to share crime prevention advice as well as to share our appeals. Yes, all the usual techniques like finger printing and analysing CCTV footage are vital. But our Twitter followers are essentially like 100,000 extra deputies acting on our behalf. In the majority of crimes, we need input from witnesses, and the most effective way of finding them is via social media.
“We work on the assumption that someone, somewhere will nearly always have some information which can help or even solve an investigation for us. Therefore, by sharing our appeals on your social media accounts, you are closing this net and helping us progress serious criminal cases. So we would like to take this opportunity to give a massive thumbs-up to everyone who follows us on social media. We couldn’t do our jobs without people like you.”
Some of our recent social media success stories:
Likes, shares and information on social media made one of the force’s most wanted hand himself in. The prolific burglar said the exposure made it impossible for him to go anywhere. This resulted in a jail sentence and peace of mind for local people.
CCTV footage taken from inside a couple’s Emersons Green home showed three burglars creeping around their living room. We shared it on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and in the media. The YouTube clip was viewed more than 500,000 times and reached 1.5m people on Facebook. Following the appeal, two 19-year-old men, who had repeatedly been named by members of the public, were arrested in April and charged.
A 21-year-old man from Bristol who raped another man at his home in Bristol, after meeting him at a city centre bar, was jailed for six years in April after a witness saw the CCTV footage on our Facebook page and came forward to identify him.
A man who was caught on CCTV breaking a Starbucks window with his foot, handed himself in in July after the footage was posted on our social media accounts. The comedy value of the clip meant it was shared far and wide. He was given a conditional discharge and made to pay costs.
Twitter fact file
The main force account, @ASPolice, was set up in March 2009.
There are also a number of officers Tweeting regularly, ranging from PCSOs to the Deputy Chief Constable Gareth Morgan (@DCCGarethMorgan).
The police at Glastonbury have their own Twitter handle, called @PoliceAtGlasto. It’s one of our best performing accounts, with 11,000 followers. It’s used to share crime prevention tips as well as important safety updates from the event, and the ever-popular #PoliceSelfie competition.