Press Room

Study Reveals Continued Use of Social Media for Crime Investigations; Increased Focus on Crime Prevention

Despite Widespread Use by Law Enforcement, Few Agencies have Formal Processes, Policies or Dedicated Staff in Place


WASHINGTON, DC and ATLANTA (November 12, 2014) — LexisNexis® Risk Solutions today announced the results of a comprehensive study focused on the use of social media by law enforcement for crime investigation and prevention. The study, a follow-up to one conducted in 2012, revealed that social media use remains high – eight out of 10 law enforcement professionals use it – with the most common use being for crime investigations (63 percent). More than half (51 percent) are using social media for crime prevention activities, with 67 percent agreeing social media is an effective tool for crime anticipation, both up from 2012.

The research also found that the frequency of use is high and on the rise, with a quarter of law enforcement professionals using social media daily and 56 percent using it at least twice a week. Additional findings include:

  • The role of social media in investigations will continue to become more mainstream, as 78 percent of current users expect to use it even more in the next year;
  • Communal, personal sites such as Facebook (93 percent) and YouTube (67 percent) are most frequently used for investigative purposes, followed closely by Twitter, which has increased significantly since 2012 (2012 = 29 percent, 2014 = 50 percent);
  • Despite widespread use, 52 percent of agencies do not have a formal process governing usage in place, and only 33 percent have someone dedicated solely to monitoring social media; and
  • 73 percent believe social media helps solve crimes more quickly.

New questions on the 2014 study included a focus on leveraging social media as a tool for managing and communicating information about public events and emergency situations:

  • 40 percent use it to monitor special events;
  • 34 percent use it to notify the public of crimes; and
  • 34 percent use it to notify the public of emergencies or disasters.

“The benefits of social media from an information-gathering and community outreach perspective became very evident during the subsequent investigations of the Boston Marathon bombings and the Washington Navy Yard tragedy,” said Rick Graham, Law Enforcement Specialist, LexisNexis Risk Solutions and former Chief of Detectives for the Jacksonville (FL) Sheriff’s Office. “It is imperative that agencies invest in formal social media investigative tools, provide formal training, develop or amend current policies to ensure investigators and analysts are fully armed to more effectively take advantage of the power social media provides.”

The research, conducted in February 2014, assessed the law enforcement community’s understanding of, proclivity to use and actual use of social media. It also aimed to better understand acceptability thresholds of various types of investigative techniques and current resources and processes being used. The nationwide study was conducted online and solicited feedback from 496 participants at every level of law enforcement – from rural localities to major metropolitan cities and federal agencies – producing a comprehensive view of the social media landscape. Respondents are active law enforcement professionals ranging in age, experience and job level.

About LexisNexis Risk Solutions
LexisNexis® Risk Solutions harnesses the power of data, sophisticated analytics platforms and technology solutions to provide insights that help businesses across multiple industries and governmental entities reduce risk and improve decisions to benefit people around the globe. Headquartered in metro Atlanta, Georgia, we have offices throughout the world and are part of RELX (LSE: REL/NYSE: RELX), a global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools for professional and business customers. For more information, please visit LexisNexis Risk Solutions and RELX.

Media Contact Form

Media Contacts

Syed Shabbir
Sr. Manager, Corporate Communications