A shift is taking place in the way police use technology, after they were initially lambasted for failing to spot upcoming riots as looters planned action on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Facebook and Twitter.

Riots began in London at the weekend, after a man was shot dead by police in Tottenham. Looting and destruction spread across London, then across the UK to cities including Manchester, Salford, Birmingham, Bristol and Nottingham.

Police forces say they are determined to clamp down on the problem by using online photo sites to share suspect images with the public, hoping they will identify the people, claiming that investigations simply couldn’t have been as effective without sharing information on the internet.

Meanwhile, prime minister David Cameron is planning to meet with representatives from the social networks and phone companies to discuss the idea of blocking text message, BBM, Twitter and Facebook access for suspected rioters. The announcement, made yesterday, was immediately criticised by human rights campaigners who say the wrong people could easily be targeted.

At we bring you the latest updates on technology, the riots and the police.

Cameron considers blocking BBM, Facebook and Twitter for alleged rioters
Prime minister David Cameron has vowed a crackdown on the use of social networking to promote riots, after days of disturbance across the UK. The government is considering disabling the access of suspected rioters to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Twitter, Facebook and mobile texting.

BLOG: Cameron to censor Twitter and Facebook? Are you JOKING???
“British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to censor social networking services, like Twitter and Facebook. He's also conflating RIM's BlackBerry Messenger with that group. He seems to think it'll help prevent scumbag rioters and looters from organizing their criminal sprees,” writes Richi Jennings.

Riot suspect photos posted online by police across the UK
Police forces across the UK – including in Birmingham, Manchester and London – are shifting their riot investigation tactics, posting large numbers of images of suspected rioters online. West Midlands Police and Greater Manchester Police are leading the way outside of the capital after London’s Metropolitan Police began posting photos of riot suspects on Flickr.

Looted smartphones will be blocked by networks
What happens to handsets stolen on this scale?

Rioters: Coordinating by BlackBerry, convicted by BlackBerry?
The controversial Regulatory of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) is likely to be widely used in the aftermath of the rioting that has swept London, Birmingham and Liverpool in recent days. RIM has promised its full cooperation with police, after claims that its BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service was being widely used to coordinate riots and looting.

Photo: Alan Stanton