Last week, the NY Daily News reported that the NYPD have started to “mine” social media for information about “troublesome house parties, gang showdowns and other potential mayhem”.

The Sunday Times newspaper also revealed later that week in the UK that Hampshire Police had been using Social Mention, a popular free social media monitoring tool, to hunt down people who appeared to be using social media to incite or encourage the riots that swept across London at the beginning of the week.

Considering the persistent news coverage about how people were supposed to have used social media and other technology to organise the looting and the riots in the UK, it’s understandable that police departments have felt the pressure to start taking these concerns seriously.

Although it’s not the first case of social media and criminality being tied together, it’s pretty easy to see that it’s another step towards an inevitable trend of more comprehensive and widespread social media monitoring for crime and law enforcement purposes.

It can’t be long until law enforcement departments around the world start to implement official teams to cover social media monitoring like this. As their processes become more refined, basic tools like Social Mention certainly won’t suffice as they will start to require much more comprehensive and more robust tools that allow them to record and manage the data properly.

Will the current premium tools fit the needs of monitoring for criminal activity? Brandwatch for example, whilst designed primarily for monitoring brands, is also widely used for broader subject analysis such as current trends and news topics. But will there be any features specifically required for this type of monitoring?