Criminal damage is a criminal offence which covers a wide variety of other related offences. For a detailed explanation of what constitutes criminal damage, possible defences and other definitions, please click on our ‘Criminal Damage’ link. Simply put, criminal damage is the reckless and intentional destruction or damage of another’s property without lawful excuse. It is covered by the Criminal Damage Act 1971. Some of the most common offences under criminal damage include arson, vandalism, looting and more recently Facebook riots. The law is evidently constantly evolving and new legislations are coming into force as the needs in society warrants them. The very recent riot and looting incident in London in 2011 brought social websites into the scope of criminal damage.
It was discovered, for example, that the popular social network platform, Facebook, was utilised by rioters to organise meeting points. The aftermath of the riots was widely publicised. Shops were looted, properties were damaged with reckless intent and cars were set on fire. The riots soon spread from the capital to several other parts of the country including Liverpool, and Manchester. Criminal damage and looting was recorded everywhere.
The London riots present a perfect example of where a number of criminal damage offences were committed by individuals and groups of individuals. Whereas looting may not necessarily qualify as a criminal damage offence, the destruction wrecked on properties, cars and shops among others fall under vandalism and arson. Inciting riots on Facebook in this instance was associated with criminal damage, arson and looting. However, there are other instances where social network sites such as Facebook are utilised for other criminal offences such as child related offences where a minor is lured and/or groomed by an offender.