POLICE have closed two “vigilante” Facebook pages which named and shamed alleged criminals.
Officers claimed the pages were inciting residents of two Fife communities to attack drug dealers.
Specific streets in Kelty and Cowdenbeath were identified as the haunt of local dealers and the Facebook posters suggested these were problems “that could be sorted out”.
In some cases pictures of alleged dealers were posted online and it is understood that actual violence happened in Kelty as a result.
Inspector Ken Chatham. commenting on the Cowdenbeath vigilante Facebook page, said: “The Facebook page was not just documenting incidents it contained various messages which were suggesting ways of tackling situations.
“Some of these had a violent content as a solution and clearly that is something that could bring fear to people and also a danger of people taking the law into their own hands and someone being hurt.”
Cowdenbeath Councillor Peter Lockhart said: “There’s been a heightened problem with drug users in the area.
“The page was naming people who were allegedly drug users and uploading pictures of people seen to be trying to open doors to get in and steal things but there was no proof that they were drug users.
“They must have seen the page in Kelty and copied it.
“My worry with pages like this is that is raises peoples fear unnecessarily.
“They weren’t saying to people go out and attack people but they were naming people and it could have led to that, there was talk if vigilante groups being set up.”
An emergency public meeting was held last Tuesday in Cowdenbeath to discuss the problem.
According to a local newspaper account, the creators of the pages were present and argued that they were merely giving people information on incidents that were happening in the town.
Others accused the council of creating the problems they were facing by housing drug addicts in “good” streets.
One woman present at the meeting, who was not named in the report, said that her home in Broad Street had been broken into for a third time yet the people responsible would still be walking the streets.
Another said: “These people seem to get houses no problem while we hardworking people who just cannot get the points needed to get a house.
One male local said: “These people are committing crime to feed their habit and we are the victims. It is not good enough.”
Councillor Alistair Bain who attended the meeting, said: “It’s a natural reaction to people you believe are causing you problems in your community.
“People were suggesting they should be evicted from their homes, it is a vicious cycle.
“We need to deal with the the issues and hopefully that does not mean local communities taking violent action.
“I understand why people might want to do it, but it could have incited others to do something dangerous.
“We need to leave the matters to the Police to deal with and we are working on a way to work together to solve the issues at hand.”