SOUTH Yorkshire Police has defended appealing online for people to report “non-crime” incidents.
The force was lampooned on social media and accused of encouraging callers to waste police time after calling for hate incidents which may not be criminal acts to be reported.
A tweet on the topic from @syptweet on Monday attracted more than 8,000 replies, including several asking if it had come from a parody account.
Posted just after an initial tweet explaining what hate crime was, the tweet encouraged reports of "non-crime hate incidents".
One Twitter user replied: “So just to be clear: you want me to phone the police when there hasn't been a crime but someone’s feelings have been hurt?”
Another user added: “What a waste of already stretched resources — I would concentrate on investigating rising crime, not inventing new ones to solve, albeit much simpler to investigate.”
Also among the responses was one from Alex Hughes, who said: “I think you should investigate yourselves for wasting police time.”
Not everyone was critical, with the post attracting almost 300 retweets and 300 “likes”.
Deputy Chief Constable Mark Roberts explained the reason for the appeal, saying: “We record non-crime hate incidents in the same way we record non-crime antisocial behaviour incidents and non-crime domestic abuse incidents, so we can gain a fuller understanding of actions which cause distress to people within our communities.
“By doing this, we aim to support those affected and prevent this behaviour from escalating into crime.
“One of the basic principles of British policing is that prevention is more effective than detection.”
Mr Roberts said the reaction to an incident in Barnsley on Saturday, where a woman allegedly stabbed a man in the town centre, had provoked “a significant increase on our social media platforms of offensive abuse against our communities”.
He added: “The comments are vile and offensive and ironically, the bigotry expressed re-emphasises the need to tackle hate both within our local communities, and much wider.
“Unfortunately, we see this type of offensive content on a regular basis.
“This will undoubtedly cause distress and fear to people within our communities.
“We will not tolerate this type of messaging and will continue, together with our partners, to raise awareness of hate.”
We want to continue holding local authorities to account, attending court and council meetings, as well as providing breaking news, competitions and offers – but it costs money. Online advertising does not cover costs, therefore we feel the need to ask for your help in ensuring we can provide the best possible coverage, online and in our printed products.
For as little as £1, you can support the Rotherham Advertiser – and it only takes a minute.
Click here to support local news.