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Police fear social media posts are putting people’s lives at risk

Strong condemnation: the Commissioner of Police, Darrin Simons (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Police said yesterday that they are working on the island and with organisations overseas to address and remove social media posts accusing people of providing information that may have led to criminals being jailed.

Darrin Simons, the Commissioner of Police, feared that spreading the material put lives at risk and assured the public that there were measures in place to protect residents who supplied intelligence.

He said: “The Bermuda Police Service is aware of a number of social media posts accusing individuals of providing information which may have led to criminals being incarcerated.

“In the strongest possible terms, I condemn this activity. It is dangerous and has the propensity to put the lives of individuals at risk, all the more if the information is wrong.

“An individual has been identified that we believe is responsible for these posts and steps are being taken at various levels both locally and internationally to address the situation and have the posts withdrawn.”

He added: “Rest assured, the BPS has systems in place to protect the identity of members of the public who do the right thing in assisting us to provide closure to families whose loved ones have become the victims of violent crime.

“This system is so strict that not even I, as the Commissioner of Police, is normally privy to information regarding the identity of individuals who co-operate with police investigations.”

Mr Simons said it was thought that “individuals not resident to Bermuda” were behind the posts.

The commissioner confirmed that social media sites were contacted and he said some content was removed.

He added: “It’s a constant checking back with the service provider to get any new posts removed and working with them to identify individuals from an evidential perspective.”

Mr Simons confirmed that no one had been arrested or taken in for questioning.

He said: “We’re working with international law enforcement partners and service providers to address this situation.”

The police commissioner would not be drawn on which overseas counterparts were involved in the investigation.

He added: “I definitely think that the circulation of the information themselves puts people’s lives in jeopardy. It just raises the temperature, the threat and tensions around the individual, and that remains a concern.”

Mr Simons explained that “very robust” systems were used to assist people who helped to bring criminals to justice, ranging from advice and safety plans to prosecution for witness intimidation and, if necessary when evidence is provided in court, witness protection.

He said: “I wish to assure the public that any information they provide to the police is treated with the strictest of confidence and the BPS advises that if you should receive any of these posts or accompanying images that you delete them and don’t share them.

“Sharing them only further jeopardises a person’s life, especially if that information is wrong.”

Mr Simons said: “The reality is, people can only have two views on this matter: one, from a place that loves Bermuda and wants to see the best for her and abhors these types of posts and all they represent; the other, from a place that doesn’t care or they don’t care about who they hurt.

“Frankly, there is no middle ground.

“To be clear, the actions of this individual impacts all of us and apathy is clearly a step in the wrong direction.”

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