The number of crooks using social networking sites to commit crimes has almost trebled since 2008.

In that year, Sussex Police, who do not have an e-crime unit, said social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn were the modus operandi – MO – in just 25 cases.

But four years later, between January and November 2012, the sites were named the MO in 94 cases.

Over the past 11 months, 27 people have been charged following crimes committed via social networking sites compared to not one four years ago.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking sites were used to commit offences including forgery, fraud and theft.

In 55 cases this year they were used in cases of violence against the person and in nine cases they were used to commit sexual offences.

Scott Freeman, from Brighton-based charity CyberSmile, met with Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service Keir Starmer and representatives from Facebook to discuss what action the CPS and police should take on e-crime recently.

Mr Freeman, from Brighton, said he was disappointed with the CPS’ proposals which he felt were too lenient.

He said: “The police have been taking cyber-bulling very seriously, as these figures show.
“But the CPS has raised the bar for freedom of speech.

“You can say what you want on social media. I think this is wrong.

“Unless something contains a credible threat you won’t be charged.”

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “Cyber crime is taken extremely seriously and Sussex Police will investigate where criminal activity has taken place. “

An example of violence could be harassment/threats where they cause harassment, alarm and distress.

“An example of sexual offences could be indecent images.”