back to article Essex police charge BlackBerry user over inciting violent disorder

Essex police have charged an 18-year-old woman from Clacton, after she allegedly sent a message via her BlackBerry device using its BBM service to incite others to commit thuggery during the England riots that gripped the country for four days. The cops cited the Serious Crime Act 2007 on the unnamed woman's charge sheet. …


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  1. NoneSuch Silver badge

    The Thought Police have arrived.

    Sorry we did not pay more attention Mr. Orwell...

    1. Just Thinking

      No, the Action Police

      Encouraging others to join in a riot is, and always has been, a serious crime. People have died in these riots. The fact that mobile technology makes it easier to do doesn't stop it being a serious criminal act (its an act, not just a thought).

      If I saw a riot in full flow, I wouldn't call my mates and invite them to join in. I don't even know anybody who would want to. Nor would I help myself to a new telly. The people who organised this are criminals (even though it took rather less pre-planning than it would have a few years ago).

      There have been cases where people appear to have been prosecuted on the basis of the authorities deliberately misinterpreting a tweet which any normal person could see wasn't intended to be threatening. This si something quite different.

    2. DavCrav


      If I were encouraging people to burgle you and stab you in the face, I think you would want me arrested as well. Moron.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You what?

      Are you seriously saying that incitement to riot is just a bit of free speech?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Interesting ...

    how police actions in the wake of the riots look as if they will spike the guns of politicians who claim we need "new laws" to deal with this.

  3. SuperTim

    Am i the only one...

    who doesn't see what is so special about BBM? I just don't get why it is always mentioned when there are dozens of other similarly available services (encrypted or not) that can do what it does, but are not singled out for the fall of man.

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge


      Its quite possible other solutions were used but havent been targetted because they just don't know about them. To be effective they will need to check everywhere as not everyone uses the well known sites like facebook or twitter for message board services.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BBM is free

      BBM is free. Which is one very good reason to use it. It is not public access, unlike twitter and facebook. And the encrypted side made people think they were safe from being spied on.

      Also I have read that some of the trendy rap band leaders promote it to the kidz.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I read that ...

        "Also I have read that some of the trendy rap band leaders promote it to the kidz."

        You either read that in 1995 or The Telegraph.

      2. Gaius


        You pay about a fiver a month and get unlimited messages to any other BB, it also has group chat. Jay Z was rapping about his BB in at least 2003, possibly earlier.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Maybe I'm being paranoid..

    But all this blaming of BBM being hard to 'tap' (compared to what.. ? public messages on Twitter?) just keeps triggering alarm bells for me.

    I'm a BES (blackberry enterprise server) admin, and yes, this is different from the public BIS, and have some idea of what all can be done with these phones..

    Having your criminals flock to one platform they see as safe might be the best thing that could ever happen to 'crime fighters'.

    Having a central server to listen in on, from a company which has always been very supportive of law enforcement agencies (without even talking about pushing 'investigative' policies and apps to users) is much more easy to deal with then a million different IM apps like Whatsapp or good old MSN/Google talk/ICQ/AIM.

  5. Pete 43

    Hey, if you can bomb an airport via twitter

    I could murder... a Capuchino

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      @Pete 43

      What have those poor little monkeys ever done to you?

  6. w smith

    So was it

    the recipient of the message that ratted on her ? or just casual eavesdropping by the authorities ?

  7. Gannon (J.) Dick
    IT Angle

    Isandlwana, redux

    Social Networking is Shaka Zulu's revenge. If you want to know how to Tweet, don't ask a chest full of medals, ask a 15 year old from Natal. Oh, and leave the 7 Pounders at home this time, they just slow you down.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    Fair enough...

    ...BBM's wasn't the cream of CD releases, but is it really fair to blame Bruce, Baker and Moore for This Mess We're In all these years later?

  9. MrCheese

    BBM Love

    As explained in a previous El Reg piece, BBM is being targeted because as far I know it's the only (semi)private messaging system they can access immediately under DPA legislation as BB cache the traffic on their servers, this means the communication is not live and not subject to RIPA.

    Police are merely follwing the path of least resistance here, no doubt they're interested in other systems but haven't had the approval to go digging.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All they needed

      Is a warrant from the Home Secretary. Not a big ask.

  10. MrCheese

    BBM Love

    This El Reg article in fact:

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Hosni Cameron should, in the words of the song, "Walk like an Egyptian" ...

    plain text only

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One question...

    Where did they get those 800 mobile numbers to send the messages? Have they done it legally?

    Are they planning to keep those numbers?

  13. Mark Dowling

    this has got to be all lies

    only stuffy banker types use Blackberrys. The Android and iOS crowd can't have been wrong about "RIM doesn't get the young people", right?

    1. tath

      the kids...

      I must live in a very strange place, because I keep hearing how well the iphone is doing but I'd estimate that easily more than half my student chums have Blackberries (i'm a semi-mature student). They are all over the place; sat in lectures and there's just rows of them on the desks, while iphones are rare, to say the least. The kids do love the BBs apparently.

      Everybody's BBMing each other all the time, "It's only a fiver a month!" they cry, "You can send short messages comprised of text on this service!!",

      Imagine that!

      It's like the 90s again except worse, because this time you can only send these messages to other Blackberries.

  14. Morteus

    Says what but not how...

    ... the police came by the information. I'm rather curious as to how they came to know and how the msg information was obtained. Surely they didn't do a 'Murdoch'?

    Not so much the devil, as his advocate.

    1. Andrew 66

      Not that difficult...

      Police to BB: "Here's a warrant. We want all this traffic from these dates that contain these keywords."

      BB: "Sure thing. Here you go"

      The decision is surprisingly simple when a company is faced with a demand for information to help in police matters: supply the info, or get done for perverting the course of justice.

  15. PeterGriffin


    Most likely a recipient of the BBM BroadCast message took affront at the cry for a riot and informed Crime Stoppers. Someone I know received three BBM BCs trying to start a riot in SE Essex - they informed the Police as they don't agree with it.

  16. Chris Martin 2

    They have it so so wrong (Government)

    What is really concerning me is the way the governement are dealing with this. In the business world we use tools like Root Cause Analsis / Six Sigma to model and understand these problems.

    All the government seem to want to do is pick off technologies one by one until they can disrupt communication enought to stop the problem. BBM is not really something new, riots in the 80's they used CB Radio to get organised...

    How about understanding the variation in people which causes the problems, a simple General Linear Model based around a good measurement system and interviews with the Good Guys and the Bad Guys would get you your answer.

    Stop blaming technology, it is an enabler, not the cause!

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: They have it so so wrong (Government)

      ".....How about understanding the variation in people which causes the problems....." Sorry, but under the political rules of Say No un-PC Truths, there is no way any of the three main UK parties will want to look at their lifestsyles, outlook or social groupings of those involved.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Anyone seen "The Wire" ...

    ISTR the knuckleheads ran a merry dance around 5-0 by simply inventing a simply transposition code, using the telephone number-alpha mappings.

    Wonder if some posse is already working with their own code ?

  18. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Alan Moore still at large?

    Good job he incited violent civil disorder in a book not online.

    On the other hand he didn't do it in a proper book, just a comic, so we should probably round him up - just in case.

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