UK

Coventry Police Face Backlash After 'Burglary Patrol' Officers Post Pictures On Twitter Inside Unlocked Homes

26/01/2016 10:07 GMT | Updated 26/01/2016 12:59 GMT

Coventry City police have been criticised for a "burglary patrol" tactic where officers entered unlocked homes in the city and posed for pictures inside, which they then uploaded to Twitter.

But having initially defended the decision saying local residents were "grateful", police on Tuesday deleted all the posts after they were widely reported on.

Some of the images showed houses with unlocked doors or windows - where street names were visible - but other photographs were of officers standing inside the homes, with the front doors ajar.

Police said they had received no complaints, but after tweeting on the weekend to thank people for their "feedback" - in a message that ended by posing a question #socialmediasuccess? - the force seemingly answered themselves by deleting the posts.

coventry police

Coventry City Police have been criticised for posting pictures on Twitter inside resident's unlocked homes

One photo was of an officer in a hallway with the caption: "PCSO Smith speaking to a resident off Holyhead Road about door left open." While another showed an officer inside the hallway of another home with the caption: "Another house left open, owner advised, that's 6 in half hour!! Stop making life easy for thieves."

One image of a security alarm inside a resident's house said: "Spotted this alarm, great addition to home security, but we were able to walk into its owners home through open door." Another showed an officer inside a home was captioned: "Three house doors in a row left open, victims waiting to happen!"

Social media users were quick to condemn the crime prevention strategy as an invasion of privacy.

Though some thought highlighting the problem was a good idea.

Cov City Police responded to one tweet by thanking social media users for their feedback. Another tweet explained that officers tried to find homeowners before entering their properties.

In a statement, Coventry Police Chief Inspector Helen Kirkman, told the BBC that a "significant amount" of burglaries in the city - in excess of 25% - were "walk in" offences committed by "opportunists taking advantage of properties left unsecure".

He added: "Neighbourhood police teams have been on patrol to deter such offences, look for suspects, and to offer crime prevention advice to residents."

coventry police

One of the deleted tweets, showing an unlocked door

If they find a door or window left open I think people would want officers to check everything is OK at that address and not to just walk on by."

Kirkman told the broadcaster: "We encourage our police teams to be proactive and creative in their use of social media to engage with the public and get messages across,'

Situations when officers do not need a warrant to enter properties include: dealing with a breach of peace or preventing it; enforcing an arrest warrant; arresting a person or to save a life or prevent serious damage to property.

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