Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 11:50 UK

Police swoop on networking sites

Bebo site
The force identified illegal activity by youths through sites like Bebo

Over 180 children have been questioned about their activities on social networking websites in a police crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

Officers from Central Scotland Police visited the homes of 182 youngsters after tracking them down through images posted on sites like Bebo.

The force said crimes like serious assault, drug dealing and alcohol abuse were detected in the operation.

As a result 72 vulnerable person reports have also been submitted.

The ages of those spoken to by officers ranged between 12 and 18 years.

'Intrusive and robust'

Assistant Chief Constable Derek Penman said the sites, in particular the Bebo site, were acting as a conduit for a range of behaviours that were "extremely concerning from a number of angles".

He said: "When we started looking, what became clear was that young people aged from very early teens through to late teens and young adulthood were involved in open displays of aggression and other unacceptable behaviour, apparently fuelled by drink in many cases.

"Our key priority is to preserve community safety and to enhance child safety in the Forth Valley.

"So we decided to take this intrusive and robust, but balanced, course of action which has seen a significant multi-agency effort dedicated to raising awareness of the overall issue and taking appropriate action where necessary."

The crackdown was carried out by police in partnership with local authorities in Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire and NHS Forth Valley.

Assistant Chief Constable Penman said the authorities would continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks and further visits to young people involved in this activity are planned.

He added: "This has been about being intelligence-led from the start to tackle a long-standing problem of anti-social behaviour, youth disorder and under-age alcohol abuse, something our communities tell us is their biggest concern - which was being driven by young people's knowledge and use of the internet."

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