Taupō Police are asking people to stop posting threats and incendiary comments on social media about a local court case which is causing tempers to flare.
Senior Sergeant Phil Edwards says following reports that local woman Tracy Livingstone is facing charges of fraud and of posting harmful digital communications in the Taupō District Court, a number of ill-thought posts have occurred on local Taupō Facebook pages.
Some people have taken exception and there have been threats and online abuse exchanged, with some of it spilling over into real life and people turning up at each other's houses.
Phil says the bad behaviour is coming from both sides and from people's tendency to be "keyboard warriors" on social media.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
That in turn has led to many reports to Taupō Police about some of the posts which Phil says are "borderline criminal" and could cause some people to end up in court. He says he expects better from adults in the Taupō community, and the poor behaviour needs to stop, not least because it is wasting police time.
He says people need to take care with what they post and comment on social media.
"You don't have the licence to say whatever you want. These are feelings and lives, and people latch on to one side of the story."
Phil said the same week, Taupō Police had 189 incidents reported including eight burglaries, four stolen vehicles, nine people who were victims of thieves and 31 people needing Police intervention because of family harm. Having to deal with reports of bad behaviour on social media was taking police officers away from investigating serious volume crime, Phil said.
He is appealing to those posting about the case on social media to cool off and allow the court process to run its course.
"The court is the correct place where both stories are heard, the police evidence weighed up by the fact finder [judge] and a decision made. Social media is not a platform to be prosecutor, judge or jury. All this other white noise is unnecessary and is adding a lot of undue stress to the families on both sides of this incident."
Phil said increasingly, police time was being taken up with complaints relating to social media, from items listed on local buy, sell, swap pages not turning up, to throwaway comments and threats.