A West Mercia Police officer with responsibility for policing in Wem has admitted her despair at residents posting on social media rather than reporting crimes.

Sgt Claire Greenaway told a full council meeting last week that Wem has endured a difficult six months with a high number of shed break-ins and burglaries.

And while she insisted the force has worked hard to bring those responsible to justice, she says comments and reports on Facebook and Twitter are being used to obstruct justice.

“Many of the cars broken into were insecure i.e. unlocked and with items on show,” said Sgt Greenaway. “There’s an element of complacency in Wem because we’re largely crime free, but this is a bolt out of the blue.

“Many of the crimes go unreported – some of you will know about comments that have been made about policing in Wem on Facebook. We’ve seen these, but unfortunately, many of these crimes were being reported on Facebook but not to the police which puts us on the back foot.

“There were missed CCTV opportunities and witnesses that were lost as they were unprepared to give details.

“If information goes on Facebook, such as pictures, it doesn’t help the police as we have to be honest to courts and tell them that pictures have been seen on Facebook and courts don’t like that.

“But fortunately there are some telling people to report it and there was a good response. The same individual was arrested four times in a week. It took many policing hours for this situation to be resolved but the person was tagged eventually.”

Councillor John Murray asked if magistrates should act but Sgt Greenaway believes they receive enough support and custodial sentence is not always the way.