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Bradford on the lookout for cyber snouts

I seen who done over the Internet cafe guv

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Bradford police have set up an informant section on its Web site. Called Crimebeat, you can anonymously (if you want) email the force with details of Yorkshire troubles. Chief Superintendent Stuart Hyde reckons it could prove a valuable resource to his boys in blue since people will be more willing to email information than make a phone and talk to someone direct. Bradford has long-standing problems with prostitution and drug dealing - two crimes that people are notoriously uncomfortable informing against. Simply fill out the online form, giving basic information as where, when, who and the cyber cops will be on the case. This is a great idea - in crime-ridden areas, the locals invariably know just who is up to what and this information is exactly what the police try to elicit most of time. However, this is the Internet and plenty of precedents exist to suggest that the rozzers' mail box will be inundated with witticisms from spotty 14-year-old geeks, fake information and viruses. But is Mr Hyde (he has a nice side too, according to insiders) not worried about getting some Yorkshire ripping yarns? "We know the site is going to get rubbish on it but I'm hoping for the little gems of information that will get through," he said. Whether this is a reasoned or simply a nave response, only time, luck and millions of bored teenagers will tell. But will the sort of people the Old Bill is hoping to reach out to like this have access to the Internet and email? And of that number, how many will feel comfortable enough with the technology to trust in its anonymity? Here at Vulture Central, the jury is still out on whether this scheme will be a success.

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