POLICE say they are considering taking legal action over people who publish what they hear on police scanners on social media in Ballarat.
A number of sites on Facebook and Twitter have grown in popularity in the city, where emergency services activity is broadcast over the internet.
Police have sent out a strong warning to those with a keen ear for police scanners, discouraging the practice.
However, the operator of one of the sites – Ballarat Community Crime Stop on Facebook – has defended publishing the information, claiming it is most often in the best interests of public safety.
“Those listening to scanners need to consider carefully why they are posting information and if they would be comfortable being on the receiving end,” said police spokesperson Natalie Webster.
“Would it be their choice to hear via social media that their loved one has died in a collision?
“When police are called, it is often an incredibly traumatic incident in someone’s life and the last thing they should be concerned about is that someone is going to provide details publicly without consideration for their welfare.”
Scanners are only accessible in regional areas in Victoria, with metropolitan communications digitally encrypted.
Police say particularly sensitive communications, such as sexual assaults, will not be transmitted across the air.
Theresa Richards, the founder of the Facebook page that has been running for about one year, said there were strict guidelines for people who posted on the page to ensure no sensitive or inappropriate information was published.
“(On our page), they are used for good and not used to gain information or spread information in any wrong way,” she said.
Another similar account on Twitter, Ballarat Scanner, often posts updates of other police movements in Ballarat.
The account owner was unable to be contacted by The Courier.