Teen arrested after website posting

By Francesca Ryan

A local teenager has been arrested by the PSNI for posting inappropriate comments on the police’s West Belfast Facebook page.

The 18-year-old, from Ballymurphy, was arrested last Thursday on suspicion of the improper use of electronic communications to cause anxiety.

The PSNI did not reveal what exactly was said in the postings, but in response to a series of posts on the site about the query, confirmed the content involved threatening suggestions to named officers.

“Basically there were posts using unpleasant language with thoughts that injury, death and destruction of property befall named officers, the police in general, and the police estate,” said a PSNI spokesman.  “These could be considered as threatening.”

The PSNI West Belfast Facebook page is a popular site where the officers list the incidents they have dealt with each day and also respond to queries from Facebook users. While much of the content is not of a serious tone – for example asking the police what capacity of engines the Auto Crime Team use in their cars or jokily asking when they can get a confiscated carry-out back – there has been up to now a friendly and warm tone to the site.

However, last Friday the PSNI posted a warning to users of the page, highlighting the arrest.

“This post is a little bit of a warning to everyone,” it reads.  “We do appreciate that the majority of people who comment or like this page are doing so for the right reasons. This is not the case for everyone, however.  As a result of this one male was arrested yesterday due to posts that we were written on this page and the content of those posts.”

The site is monitored by serving police officers from both Grosvenor Road and Woodbourne police stations who, according to the post, will investigate any content that is deemed
”grossly offensive”.

“This could lead to searches of premises and all devices that can be used to post data to Facebook or other social network sites could be seized and examined.”

The teenager was later released pending report to the PPS.

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