Earlier this week we witnessed a new phenomenon in Britain, large groups of people organising themselves on the interwebs to suddenly appear in one place in order to overwhelm the police and to steal. Listening to the mainstream media you would think that this was a totally new technique, invented in Britain. But it has been fairly common in America since 2009, so you would think that our police strategists would have already known all about it.
Flash Mobs for legitimate fun were invented in New York in 2003 and have become a worldwide phenomenon. Totally unrelated people spontaneously appear for an event, brought together by the interwebs. It could be to have a pillow fight or to sing a song. The idea has been hijacked by marketing people to create publicity for their product or service.
Here are a few legitimate Flash Mobs:
Turning the Flash Mob concept to looting first happened in Philadelphia in 2009, since when it has been widespread there and has spread across America, they involve theft, violence and criminal damage. Something we now recognise. The police and politicians in Philadelphia have considerable experience of dealing with this and we could learn a lot from them.
Here are some American criminal Flash Mobs.
As you can see they have much in common with what happened in Britain. Before the interwebs were invented this sort of criminality was called swarming, but it involved groups that knew each other, such as organised gangs or classmates. Now with social media swarming has become Flash Mobs, large groups of people who don’t know each other but who have the common purpose of looting.
The policing methods to control this are pretty simple, use CCTV to catch and prosecute miscreants, the facial recognition feature on Facebook should tell the police who most of them are, apply curfews so teenagers aren’t running amok through the night, and make the parents liable for the actions of their children. As I said earlier a £5,000 fine or a month in prison would change the attitude to parenting pretty quickly and it would prevent a lot of lawlessness.
So there we have it, interwebs driven criminal Flash Mobs, invented in Philadelphia in 2009, since when, in copycat fashion, they have spread across America. It was only a matter of time before they came here yet the police and politicians were totally unprepared.