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Bystanders and witnesses may have information that is relevant to crime investigations or address security challenges.

Therefore, LEAs uses social media to ask the public for help (targetted or not).

  • Equipped with smartphones, bystanders and witnesses may have captured information that is relevant to crime investigations or address security challenges.
  • LEAs use social media to ask the public for help, e.g. during: Boston Marathon Attack: Report of Responsible Officer; UK Riots 2011: Identification of suspects; Shooting Munich 2016: Special site to submit information.
  • LEAs use of police website to ask citizens for their help to solve a case (e.g. in the Netherlands). The public can give tips or indicate how they see the thing is gone (what is the scenario?). People will be kept informed of new developments in the case.
  • Another type of crowdsourcing crime tips is by using the traditional media (TV) in conjunction with social media, like the second screen with the Dutch programme ‘Opsporing Verzocht’ (NL).
  • Using social media for crime tips submission, is, however, not a practice that police forces encourage, as they do not want sensitive information to be submitted publicly or via corporate systems. The Police Service Nothern Ireland (PSNI) regularly issue appeals, updates on arrests and charges and crime prevention information on their social media channels. PSNI, however, do not accept reports of crime on their social media. The public are advised to contact police by phone to report crime.
  • LEAs create podcasts to make crime cases public and ask citizens for help.
  • “Crowdsolve” is a platform designed to help solve crimes.
  • LEAs use Pinterest to share wanted people lists:
  • In UK through the app Facewatch ID provides an online portal enabling Police and communities to work together towards reducing crime. The police post images of the individuals they are seeking to identify. The individuals pictured are being sought as both persons of interest and witnesses to crimes.
  • The Dutch Burgernet provides a mobile service where people can register to receive police messages asking to be on the look-out. Burgernet is a national NL initiative; a cooperation between police, municipalities and citizens. Participants of Burgernet (citizens that joined Burgernet as a member) receive a voice or text message with the request to look for a person or vehicle in their area. (see also:
  • The Spanish National Police official webpage has a section for citizen collaboration, to report allegedly criminal facts. This report is not equivalent to a formal report, and it is confidential.
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