Intelligence gathering from social media 'prevented some riot damage'
19 August 2011
Posted by Samuel Couratin
Using social media to collect intelligence assisted the police in preventing some of the damage caused by the riots in London.
This is according to the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), which stated that it used websites to monitor communications among those responsible for the civil disturbances, which affected the capital and a number of other cities.
Out-Law reported that a statement it received from the MPS on the subject pointed to "chatter" relating to Oxford Street, the 2012 Olympics site in east London and the two Westfield centres as influencing decisions about where to allocate resources.
It also read: "In addition to the open source monitoring, mobile phones and smartphones of those arrested for the disorder were seized and analysed as part of the crime investigations."
Social networking sites were widely used during the riots by perpetrators to organize disturbances, by police to provide information and by communities to arrange clean-ups in the wake of the damage and looting.
Law enforcement agencies can require telecoms operators to hand over customers' details and data under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) if it is relevant to the prevention or detection of a crime.
The MPS reported that as of yesterday (August 18th) there were 1,802 arrested in the city connected with disorder and looting.