back to article Glasgow Cops pound Facebook to blunt knife crime

Strathclyde Police are confronting their trainee bobbies with the harsh realities of 21st century policing by making them trawl Facebook looking for ne'er-do-wells flashing knives and other offensive items. Once upon a time any crim thinking of tooling himself up would have lived in fear of Dixon of Dock Green looming out of a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Creeping Gordongrad

    The article also says that "Other forces from across the UK have also been in touch about the possibility of setting up similar operations." It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to see where this is going to head. Creeping Gordongrad strikes again...

    I prophesy that anyone photographed with anything which could vaguely be seen as weapon-like by the police and Reichsprotector Smith could end up getting their collars felt. A suitably vaguely worded piece of "legislation" would enable plod to lock up anyone they thought was doing something with a potential weapon.

    If this bunch of idiots currently in government get another four years then I can foresee knives of any sort being banned. Forks will follow soon after beause they have points which could be used as weapons. We will have to eat with our fingers.

    Gordongrad - oppressive slavery heading towards the dark ages.

    OK, Moses bit over. Back to the here and now.

    Guess what? I have a large desk top here, which, if I whacked someone around the head with it, would be classed as a weapon. Mentioning wood, if a baseball bat is classed as a dangerous weapon does that mean my V600 cricket bat is now classed as a dangerous weapon too? Shit, there's a couple of photos of me using it out there in internet land. Oh shit!

    There's a photo of me chopping vegetables in my kitchen with a kitchen knife out there somewhere too. Oh bollocks!

    And a photo of me holding a very large firework. Guess that means I'm a terrorist as well.

    What about snooker and pool cues? Or camera tripods? Or my leather belt? Or that riding crop thing I saw in an equestrian shop recently?

    The girls with weapons group on Flickr could be in for some investigation too.

    We need a V For Vendetta icon here.

  2. Loki


    You have to laugh at comments like these: "We show the parents their pictures"

    This would be the druggie/alcoholic parents or single mums of these tearaways? Or the parents who are living in fear of being stabbed by their little cherubs if they dare say a word about their behaviour.

    Still... nice to see our bobbies using the latest technology to keep up to date with budding criminals.... bitch.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We're looking for anyone who is brandishing offensive weapons or blades,"

    They have apparently missed gallery pages where the neds have been mockingly displayed for years.

  4. Edward Clarke

    Waste time on the internet?

    This absolutely begs for a photoshop contest. You could set up an entire thug gang with some creative editing. "The Axbridge Axemen!" "The Maesteg Marauders" "The Killin Killers"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about...

    Trying Bebo and Youtube, far more popular with the baser elements of society.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    @ "These bobbies actually go and tackle the potential crims." - erm. being a potential crim isnt against the law is it? so, they can arrest you for having a pic of yourself with a weapon now, even though the weapon isnt illegal? stop the planet i want to get off!

    also, why didnt el reg have an article on how cannabis has been reclassified as B now. i say we all try to get any MP who admits to once smoking pot arrested and charged. bloody hypocrites! especially when 1/2 the labour gov has admittedly smoked in their past.

    @ "We need a V For Vendetta icon here" - amen brother! welcome to the new dark ages!

  7. Red Bren

    Two birds with one stone

    "dredging Facebook for pics of hoodies and gangbangers touting their offensive tools."

    So they're cracking down on violent crime and extreme pr0n at the same time? Who said we can't have joined up government?

  8. Anonymous Coward

    The UK's gangs

    I find it rather nice that while in other countries, gangs are out on the streets, armed with machine guns, busily killing each other with the police afraid to take them on, while here our "gang members" are in their bedrooms posing in front of their webcams, and the police will tackle this "gang culture" by having a quiet word with the parents. Even in the 21st century, Britain is still Britain.

  9. Dave

    Oh stop whining

    @Captain Jamie

    They're not talking about pictures of you cutting vegetables or playing baseball with their son, they're talking about pictures of youths brandishing weapons to demonstrate their 'gang' credentials.


    I personally know a mother who's been in court watching her son potentially go down for knife related violence. She didn't even know he'd been involved previously with the law. Any information about his getting into this game may have prevented a whole cycle of problems.

    @no-one in particuler

    I'm so sick of people continously shouting for solutions and then blindly claiming the solution infringes their civil liberties. Guess what? - Being stabbed with a knife by some junkie asshole infringes my civil liberties a fuck sight more than a cop browsing the *PUBLIC* internet for images of thugs waving weapons and taking them under closer examination.

  10. Richard

    I have a photo...

    of me in a cowboy costume pointing a toy gun (with a big red bit of plastic on the end) at the camera. Does this make me a criminal and should I be expecting a call from PC PC (geddit!) in the next few days?

    I for one welcome our green overlords who will overpower us with a bit of 2x4 and a nail because all other weapons on earth will have been destroyed!!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    @Captain Jamie

    Yes - the cricket bat is a dangerous implement.

    It's been known to bore people to death when used in the manner for which it was designed.

  12. Jason Togneri
    Thumb Down

    @ The UK's gangs

    "Even in the 21st century, Britain is still Britain."

    That's because, by the time the rest of us have reached the 21st century, Britain is cheerfully beginning to enter the 20th. This is ludicrous. How about having these officers (and cadets) go and build up their experience by chasing up all the current criminals, rather than going after the 'potential' ones and giving them a reason to be even more resentful of the police? What a waste of time and effort.

  13. Anonymous Coward


    I had a multi-tool confiscated while trying to board a flight last year, apparently a 2" (blunt) blade is a big threat to aircrews; so I was mightily amused to be given a high quality 6" serrated stainless steel knife to eat my airline food with!!!!

    Wouldn't be allowed on the flight either, those beaks are dangerous!!!!!!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ the uk's gangs

    only reason they carry blades not guns is

    1) caught with a firearm, guaranteed jail time and possibly shot dead by the police

    2) caught with a knife, potential to go to jail, more than likely community service and low risk of even being tasered.

    3) firearm expensive and relatively hard to get unless you "know the right people innit" knife...cheaply available in your local supermarket in varying sizes.

    I agree a proportion of them are all bravado, however a sizeable number ARE a real threat and we need to STOP downplaying the threat to public safety they pose and take them off the streets for a substantial time.

  15. Jason Togneri

    @ Knifaphobia!!!!!

    That's nothing. Last time I went through Edinburgh Turnhouse, I was careful to not have anything pointy or slicey with me - only to discover a (WHSmith?) on the 'secure' side was selling Gillette Mach 3 razors and spare razor blades. Why am I not allowed to bring my own, and yet I'm allowed to buy a new (and therefore probably a lot sharper) one on the other side of the checkpoint?

  16. goggyturk
    Thumb Up

    Nothing potential about this

    If this story had been reported properly, it would have mentioned the fact that carrying a knife in public is against the law in Scotland - hence those seen in photos brandishing their weapons in the open are already criminals. There's nothing potential about it. The reason for this is simple - Glasgow is the knife-murder capital of Britain. Forget all the middle class hand wringing about Londonshire, Glasgow always has been worse.

    The potential bit comes when the photos are taken indoors, that's when the parents are called, because they're harbouring a potential murderer under their roof. To portray all the parents in that situation as druggies or jaikies only shows the total ignorance of how widespread this problem is in Glasgow. Btw, in the old days, this would have been standard - either that or the bobbie would have taken you round the corner and kicked your arse into the middle of next week.

    Which would you rather have - some human interaction and support for families or automatic prison sentences? At least you get a second chance in the former case.

  17. ArfinGreebly

    Prior Restraint

    Ah, Britain.

    Land of prior restraint.

    "We think you might [whatever], so we're going to lock you up. Well, not really, but we're going to have you do some 'counseling' with these lovely white-coats here. They'll make the determination whether you're a danger -- your opinions don't count. The fact that you're a gentle soul with no history of violence whatsoever doesn't count. The fact that no crime has been committed . . . likewise, doesn't count."

    "And the fact that you're indignant about this, shows that you have an anger management problem."

    "But don't worry, lad, when we're done, you'll feel much better. I guarantee it."

  18. Grant
    Thumb Up

    @Oh stop whining

    Gotta agree with you Dave.

    also don't see how looking through PUBLIC internet images is civil rirghts violation.

    @Jason TogneriI

    having green 18 year olds going through facebook seems like a pretty effcient use of time. Some inexperianced workers do a first pass through the masses of pages and then more experianced (and valuable) workers do a check on a smaller data set. Sounds like good management and planning. Knowing who in your neighbourhood is trying show how tough he is by posing in pics and going around giving them a scare if they are just "potential" criminals. Community policing, crime prevention. You know doing something before they knife someone. You lot are the same ones who complain that police never reduce crime because they don't even get involved till after the crime is committed.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice to see police joining the digital age

    I just wonder if they'll lower the standards required of the average police recruit. Considering most teenagers have poor social skills but are brilliant at technology & sitting at a computer beats having to waddle after suspects, this could be a perfect job for them.

    Seriously I'm torn as to whether this is a good thing or not. On the one hand it does seem to send a message to those even brandishing knives its unacceptable. On the other there is the civil liberties issue. It must be carefully balanced. For example, the police get new powers to access the proposed communications database you always hear that they won't go on fishing expeditions. Yet isn't this precisely that, a fishing expedition? Is this actually a good & effective use of police resources? Or is it just a PR exercise to make the police look like their actually tackling knife crime?

  20. Brezin Bardout

    RE: Nothing potential about this

    '..those seen in photos brandishing their weapons in the open are already criminals'

    Err no, I'm quite sure to qualify as being a criminal someone needs to have been found guilty in a court of law. If the police have evidence the photo was taken in an area where possession of knives in public is against the law, then they may have a case, but until taken to court and proven guilty they are not criminals.

  21. André

    Re: hmmm

    ...especially when 1/2 the labour gov has admittedly smoked in their past.

    Yeah but they "didn't inhale"...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Dear.

    I have a photo of me posing with an airsoft rifle up at my local site. Am I going to get my skull perforated?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What is the current knife law in Scotland?

    As I understand it, the law in England is fairly vague and flexible. It's a crime to have with you any object with the intention of using it as a weapon, but you can carry an actual weapon around if you have a legitimate reason for doing so. So, a martial arts instructor can carry a samurai sword with him in a case if he's on the way to the dojo, but a football hooligan can be charged for taking a golf club with him to a football match.

  24. TeeCee Gold badge

    @Jason Togneri re: razors

    Er, that'll be because if you actually *read* the regs on what's allowed rather than just assuming that all pointy / slicey related things are a no-no, razors that have the blade(s) fixed in the head assembly and not removable as naked blades are on the list of permitted items. Yer Mach III falls neatly into this category.

    To add to the possible confusion here, I've seen some airport posters listing these as "safety" razors. Any fule kno that this term was orginally coined by Gillette to describe their original interchangeable thin-blade razor to differentiate it from the (at the time) standard "cut-throat" razor. So, in theory, you can turn up with an object that has "safety razor" written all over it, yet still have it confiscated despite having a list on display stating that safety razors are explicitly permitted.

    Your mileage may vary depending on how far to the right of Genghis Khan the uniformed twat at security is.

  25. goggyturk

    @ Brezin

    "Err no, I'm quite sure to qualify as being a criminal someone needs to have been found guilty in a court of law. If the police have evidence the photo was taken in an area where possession of knives in public is against the law, then they may have a case, but until taken to court and proven guilty they are not criminals."

    They've incriminated themselves by taking a photo of themselves in the act, which is why the police have a free hand to arrest them. I don't think I'm presuming anything by saying this - unless you think that all the pictures referred to have been faked?

    Maybe you'd prefer the term 'lawbreaker'? Because this is against the law in Scotland.

  26. Steve Ball

    Furthermore ...

    What, exactly, is wrong with a fishing expedition? Only thing it'll catch is fish (criminals).

    Can anyone give a concrete example of when your civil liberties being violated is a bad thing? And can it be balanced against potentially detecting a large portion of criminal elements?

    Like the whole DNA database thing - who cares whether your details are stuck somewhere on a database? Wouldn't you be a fan of it if your wife / mother / daughter / girlfriend was raped and they used the database to catch the perpetrator?

    I am not a troll - I just like asking the questions that no-one else will.

  27. Gianni Straniero


    "You have a friend request from Constable Holly McGee. We need you to confirm that you are friends with Holly before she can see your profile".

    Click "Do not pass 'Go'. Do not collect £200."

  28. Anonymous Coward

    just doing their job

    Just had a delightful little chat with "The Polis", after they came round as a picture of me waving a fencing sabre around (about as blunt as a car aerial) matched their criteria "for investigation".

    The picture was taken at a fencing competition. I have a license to carry swords like that, and most of the time they're in a padlocked sports bag (don't want them stolen)- which was clearly explained to two of the local constabulary's finest - alas, they have told me that unless I give them a very good reason why I should have such an arsenal [5 "swords"] , I may be charged.

    Good job they didn't look at the bookshelf- with my Uni chemistry textbooks, could be taken away as a danger to society

  29. Brezin Bardout

    @ goggyturk

    Sorry, you missed my point completely. They are potential criminals because until they are found guilty they are innocent. They are only incriminating themselves if they were actually breaking the law. I know the police and most probably the government would absolutely love to not have to bother with all the hassle of actually proving someone guilty, but thankfully, just because they or you decide someone is guilty, it does not make them so. A court decides that. I can think of a number of reasons why a photo of someone with a weapon outside would not make them guilty of breaking any laws. Maybe it was taken outside of Scotland or maybe it was taken on private property, which I'm assuming the law doesn't cover as it is not a public place.

    Anyway, I'm not against the idea, if it helps then good. I suspect there may be better ways to reduce knife crime but I'm fairly sure they would rely on having more police and so more cost, certainly a lot more cost than sticking a couple of trainees in front of a computer.

  30. Red Bren

    @Steve Ball

    "Can anyone give a concrete example of when your civil liberties being violated is a bad thing? And can it be balanced against potentially detecting a large portion of criminal elements?"

    How about when the police prevent anti-war protesters from attending a legal demonstration on the grounds that they might breach the peace, i.e. upset the government.

    "Wouldn't you be a fan of it if your wife / mother / daughter / girlfriend was raped and they used the database to catch the perpetrator?"

    You're only one step away from "Won't someone think of the children?!!" Would you still be a fan if you or your father/brother/son was wrongly accused or convicted because of DNA found at the scene or evidence that was (deliberately) cross-contaminated?

    Fishing expeditions are wrong because they allow the police to trawl for far more than just evidence of wrong-doing. Instead of evidence-based investigation, suspects are identified by profiling and all of a sudden, you're getting a 4am knock on the door because you visited a vegetarian cookery website, bought some garden fertilizer and topped your car up with diesel, all on the same day. You must be an animal rights terrorist!

    However much you trust the current authorities not to abuse their powers, can you be certain all future administrations will be just as trustworthy?

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