Angus police hunting a local flasher have condemned social media jokers for tagging pals into appeals for help over serious crimes.
They issued a plea for the public’s help over an early morning incident in Montrose’s Whinfield Road last Friday.
The offence happened around 6.30am and the suspect, who is around 30-years-old and five feet ten inches tall, made off towards the town’s health centre.
Police said they could not rule out a possible link to another indecent exposure in Montrose less than a week earlier.
However, Facebook responses to the appeal included several commenters tagging pals and jokingly suggesting they might be the person police were looking for.
Appeal For Information – Indecent Exposure, MontroseWe are currently investigating an incident which happened in…
Their misplaced sense of humour prompted police to follow up the online appeal.
They said on the post: “A small note – for those who comment on posts of this type by tagging a friend and saying ‘was this you’ or similar.
“It’s not big and it’s not clever.
“This has been an upsetting incident for those who witnessed it – please bear that in mind. Thanks.”
Enquiries into the incident are ongoing and a leading Montrose councillor has joined the condemnation of the keyboard warriors.
Social media culture
Town Independent Mark Salmond said: “You see this all the time now and it is an unfortunate aspect of social media culture.
“People feel they can virtually say anything on social media platforms, regardless of the impact it might have on others.
“I saw this appeal for information and it is clearly a very serious incident which police are investigating.
“I also saw their message to people not to be tagging pals in and trying to suggest that they might be the culprit.
“Unfortunately that also generated a few unhelpful comments, but what I also read were responses from people who may have suffered similar incidents over the years.
“You could quite clearly see the effects from that which have remained with them or their families.”
Mr Salmond added: “It is not helpful that people are minimising incidents like this.
“I am pretty sure they would be very upset if it happened to a family member or someone close to them.
“People really need to reflect before making unhelpful comments.
“We need to support the police in the job they are doing and not turn it into a joke.
“It has long frustrated me that people believe they can say anything they want without proper consideration of what impact it may have on people who they have no idea around what issues they may be facing or what is going on in their lives.
“I know we’re not going to win the war here but I am fully supportive of the message police have given out over how they view these sort of comments when they are trying to get on with detecting the perpetrators of serious and distressing offences such as this.”