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A 28-year-old man from Lancashire, believed to be a student, has been charged with encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence (burglary) via Facebook.
The news broke on Wednesday afternoon through the social media Twitter. Lancashire Constabulary (@LancsPolice) revealed the man’s name, age and address, with information on the charged offence. It was quickly picked up by the national press, with Sky News’ (@SkyNewsBreak) account posting the following:
“Lancashire police charge 28-year-old man with trying to encourage looting in Lancaster via Facebook.”
The charge comes after several other arrests across the country for similar offences. There has been widespread looting and violence across England since Saturday, when a peaceful demonstration over the death of a man (who was shot by police) turned violent.
Assistant Chief Constable Peter White released a statement on Lancashire Constabulary’s website. “We have seen lots of speculation across the social media about things allegedly happening in Lancashire and we would urge people not to get caught up in this kind of unhelpful rumour mongering,” read the statement.
He added, “Social media sites are routinely monitored by the Constabulary and anyone found to be inciting violence or disorder in this way will be dealt with by police.”
Matt Saint, LUSU Vice President (Equality, Welfare and Diversity), hoped students would listen carefully to the police’s advice. Saint said, “We urge all students to take this seriously. One comment or joke on a social network site could easily be misconstrued and lead to a criminal record, which could affect you for the rest of your life.”
A full copy of Lancashire Constabulary’s statement can be found on their website – http://www.lancashire.police.uk/news/lancashire-response-to-uk-incidents-of-disorder