Monitor young offenders’ online threats
Young offenders should have their social-media profiles monitored to prevent crime, a probation watchdog report has said. It warned that some of the vilest crimes, including sexual offences, are planned online in ways that were “inconceivable” a few years ago.
After examining 115 cases, HM Inspectorate of Probation found that a quarter of the crimes were “directly related” to the perpetrator’s use of social-media sites. Its report said crimes were now “planned in bedrooms rather than on street corners”.
In some cases arguments online escalated into physical assaults, while others saw victims blackmailed using indecent images they were pressured to upload. Rival gangs regularly threaten each other in videos online.
Offenders often use codes when chatting online, including NIFOC (‘nude in front of the computer’) and POS (‘parents over shoulder’).
Dame Glenys Stacey, the chief inspector of probation, said: “This is new behaviour. Many of these young people shun Facebook and other common applications, in favour of lesser known and, therefore, more private media”.
She added that teams dealing with young offenders need help to “catch up” with this change of tactics.
The UK has 152 Youth Offending Teams, supervising about 19,000 youngsters aged 10 to 18. The Youth Justice Board said it had published new guidance on tackling the problem of social media and would “carefully consider the recommendations within the report”.