While social media, especially Blackberry Messenger, was a communication tool of choice for rioters, the police department in Manchester, England has begun using a broad array of social media networks to track down rioters who were trying to copy their London brethren. And these efforts have been met with success, as the lead video demonstrates quite nicely.
The Greater Manchester Police have even set up a YouTube page, and the latest video discusses “Shop a Looter” program, where images of the wanted rioters and looters will be posted on their Flickr page and as well as billboards and advertising vans that drive around the city. There’s also a video discussing the program, and it’s evident from Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan’s delivery, if the Manchester police have their way, they’ll punish everyone who was involved with the Manchester rioting:
Say what you will about England’s CCTV policies and their effectiveness in relation to prevention, but a quick glance at the Flickr page that was set up to find the wanted rioters, it’s an effective tool in regards to reactionary responses.
Currently, there are 68 items listed on the GMP’s Flickr stream, and, as you can see, there’s no escaping the quality of the images being uploaded:
There’s also an 800 number listed for those of you who would like to share any information.
While the GMP’s use of YouTube and Flickr is a lesson in effective social media use, the police force has been an absolute animal on their Twitter account, doing their social networking best to catch the rioters. Some examples, including the awesome response that came after the lead arrest video was posted:
total number of arrests following Tuesday’s disorder now stands at more than 220. More than 130 charged.
And yes, both of those “can you identify these suspects” tweets go to separate Flickr pages.
What are your thoughts on using social media coupled with law enforcement? Does the open acknowledgement of the police doing their jobs–in this case, effectively–make you feel any safer or more like living in a police state? Considering the rioters were smart enough to show their faces in the land of CCTV, it’s their own fault if they get caught, no matter what means were used to detain them.