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Police take Bebo route in Dereham

PUBLISHED: 15:24 04 June 2008 | UPDATED: 14:35 07 July 2010

It is usually the domain of teenagers and young adults, but now for the first time in the county a police team has set up its own social networking group.

It is usually the domain of teenagers and young adults, but now for the first time in the county a police team has set up its own social networking group.

And while it may seem an unlikely partnership, since joining internet site Bebo, Dereham Safer Neighbourhood Team has already proved popular.

The innovative idea came from PC Matt Howes who wanted a way to interact with youngsters and provide them with an approachable way to voice their concerns.

He said: “When you go up to children in the street they see the uniform and immediately think they're in trouble.

“That's rarely the case. Often we just want to talk to them and hear their concerns. Bebo is something that a lot of young people have access to and feel comfortable using.

“It's proved more popular than I thought. We haven't had any abuse which was something we were worried about.

“Already we've picked up on things they view as problems; the amount of underage drinking going on, the state of the recreation ground, and they want a graffiti wall, none of which we would know without this.

“Now we can see about getting a graffiti wall set up, go up to the recreation ground and talk to people leaving litter. It makes us more approachable and helps us sort out their concerns.”

On the safer neighbourhood team's page are polls to gauge people's opinions, photos of the police to help members identify them on the street, a discussion board and up to date information about their work in the community.

Despite being only set up a month ago the team have 46 'friends', which is where people add a certain group to their favourites, and has been viewed almost 200 times.

And while PC Howes cannot be sure it is the first time in the country a police team has set up a social network group, already the idea is attracting attention from forces across the country.

The site is available at www.bebo.com/Derehamsnt.

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