Police tasked with telling families about a loved one’s death claim social networking is turning the sensitive job into a race against time.
A senior member of Lothian and Borders Police said details of a fatal stabbing witnessed by members of the public had been posted online within ten minutes. He added: ‘His family learned he was dead about one minute later when they got a call from someone who had seen it on Facebook. By the time we managed to get officers to their home to break the tragic news, they already knew. It is now a matter of routine to make these visits as quickly as we possibly can, often without the detailed preparation we would once have made, because it is by no means uncommon for the news to have reached victims’ families long before we do.’
In another case, detailed pictures of forensic officers working at the site where a body had been found were shared on the internet. The source said: ‘People tweet what they had for breakfast, they put their daily routine on Facebook in the sort of minute detail that leaves people like me wondering who would care. Ten years ago, if these people witnessed a murder, they’d have called the police. Now they seem to reach for the iPhone and put the news straight on Facebook.”
We think there has to be more questions asked around why the public reach for their iPhone rather than calling the police. We believe MyPolice is a brilliant tool for tackling this challenge and being the bridge between what people actually do and what the police want people to do.