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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Facebook helped find missing kids - Hobart, Tasmania:

By Jennifer Crawley

TWO young Hobart children were found safe and well at the weekend after family members posted photos of them on social media and asked friends for information.

Inspector David Plumpton said police started their investigations as soon as they were told of the two missing children and at the same time family members posted details on Facebook.

Insp Plumpton said it was important to get the message out quickly, particularly in relation to children. “Posts asking for help to find missing people really engage with the community because people want to help,’’ he said.

Social media is proving a powerful tool for police in tracking missing people.

Last week’s National Missing Persons Week campaign in Tasmania reached a massive audience on Facebook, resulting in two arrests. The campaign was seen by tens of thousands of Tasmanians.

The campaign encouraged readers to follow their instincts when reporting information and started with individual photos of missing people on the popular Tas Police Facebook page.

The post on missing Latrobe man Andrew Jarman, who failed to return from a bicycle ride in August 2012, reached nearly 110,000 Facebook followers.

And the post that offered a $50,000 reward for information into the disappearance of Launceston man Christopher Watkins reached more than 100,000 followers.

The average reach of the eight missing people cases was more than 60,000 Facebook followers.

Insp Plumpton said the missing persons campaign aimed to dispel the myth that people had to wait 24 hours before reporting someone missing.

More charges are expected to be laid in the disappearance and suspected murder of Mr Watkins after police charged two men with conspiracy in connection with his disappearance.

Inspector John King said the campaign and offer of a reward for information provided fresh information that led to the conspiracy charges.

Anyone who has information they feel is relevant to a missing persons case is asked to call police on 131 444 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1800 333 000.



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