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Police to clamp down on cyberbullies

Culprits to be sent warning messages on Facebook

The police are clamping down on cyberbullying on social networks such as Facebook by issuing warning messages to the bullies and their parents.

Under the trial by Thames Valley Police, officers will work with teenage volunteers to investigate reports of cyberbullying and harassment on Facebook made by parents and schools.

If cyberbullying is found to have taken place, the culprit will be sent a message on Facebook warning them they are breaking the law and could be prosecuted for their actions. Their parents will also be alerted to their activities.

According to PC Dave Thomas, who developed the scheme: "Social networkers, whatever their age, often don't think about what they are writing in the same way they would think about what they write in a letter or an email".

"By sending a police warning notice on Facebook, students will be made aware they could be prosecuted. By alerting their parents to the problem, we are aiming to nip the problem in the bud and prevent it becoming something more serious".

Thomas added that if the Police have to investigate Facebook messages as harassment or public order offences and as a result charge a young person "it could seriously affect their future".

"While we want them to realise how serious the matter is, we also want to avoid that and keep young people out of the criminal justice system if possible."

The scheme will initially take place in Reading in Berkshire, but could be rolled out across the South East later this year if it proves successful.

See also: How to keep your children safe on Facebook

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