"To ask the Chief Constable to detail the number of arrests and prosecutions made in relation to offences on Twitter and Facebook in Northern Ireland in the year so far beginning January 1 2013, providing a breakdown of the arrests and prosecutions by PSNI Districts A-H."The following response was given:
"Currently, the PSNI does not record any specific offence types that relate to social media and therefore it is not possible to provide counts of arrests. In addition, the PSNI do not routinely record data in respect of prosecutions and this aspect of the request should be referred to the PPS and/or NICtS.
To ascertain the true nature of any incident would require a manual review of the incident details to determine whether the incident related to a complaint, crime, or arrest involving social media, or whether facebook or Twitter was mentioned in the investigation log for other reasons. To carry out such a trawl would require the extraction of resources from core duties, which we are unable to facilitate at this time.
However, I can confirm that the number of incidents where the words facebook or Twitter occur in the incident investigation logs is stated below:-
2009 - 4 (The ability to search investigation logs was commenced on 14/10/2009)
2010 - 73
2011 - 1,541
2012 - 2,887
2013 - 2,111 (for the period, 1st January 2013 to 14th June 2013)
It should be highlighted that above counts relate to reported incidents, rather than the number of individual arrests/prosecutions as previously mentioned.
In addition, if facebook or Twitter is mentioned in an incident investigation log, this does not signify that a crime or arrest occurred.
If facebook or Twitter are mentioned in an incident investigation log, this does not signify that facebook or Twitter were used by PSNI officers as part of the investigation.