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Glasgow Cops pound Facebook to blunt knife crime

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Strathclyde Police are confronting their trainee bobbies with the harsh realities of 21st century policing by making them trawl Facebook looking for ne'er-do-wells flashing knives and other offensive items.

Once upon a time any crim thinking of tooling himself up would have lived in fear of Dixon of Dock Green looming out of a darkened alley to feel their collars or of tripping over Taggart while he was keeping his ear to the ground outside the villains' local.

Now BBC's Newsbeat - news for people with an attention span as long as the average 4/4 drum loop - reports that Constable Holly McGee and Cadet Fraser Reed, both 18, are ensuring shanks stay off the street and that baseball bats are only used for hitting regulation baseballs by dredging Facebook for pics of hoodies and gangbangers touting their offensive tools.

"We're looking for anyone who is brandishing offensive weapons or blades," Holly told Newsbeat. "We take the date, the time, detail of what's in the photograph, [then] a copy of the photograph is printed out and thereafter it's all sent to the gangs task force unit."

The info is then passed on to "more experienced officers in the Violence Reduction Unit". These bobbies actually go and tackle the potential crims.

Gang members posing with weapons in public are committing an offence, the force reckons, and can expect to be arrested. Even those who pose with their tools in the privacy of their own homes are living in fear, apparently. "We show the parents their pictures," explained Superintendent Bob Hamilton.

If this wasn't enough to make the young scoundrels beat their flick knives into plough shares, Hamilton warns that the Glasgow cops "recover the weapons and make sure they know that behaviour is unacceptable".

Personally, we still hanker back to the days when the Special Patrol Group would tackle any local upsurge in violent crime by chucking anyone they didn't like the look of into the back of a van for a little drive around and a friendly chat. But then again, that kind of behaviour isn't likely to build up your Friends List, is it? ®

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