Benefits Street: Police To Probe 'Criminality'
Police are considering launching an investigation following claims a documentary about benefits claimants showed elements of criminal activity.
The first episode of Benefits Street was shown on Channel 4 on Monday night and prompted hundreds of comments by viewers concerned about its content.
The five-part series focuses on residents in the James Turner Street area of Winson Green in Birmingham and "reveals the reality of life on benefits".
However, as the show hit screens there was an immediate reaction on Twitter with many claiming the footage showed residents breaking the law.
Some of the tweets also contained abuse, including death threats, aimed at the programme's participants.
West Midlands Police have said they will investigate these threats and are also looking at whether the show's content can help them with ongoing investigations or will prompt any new inquiries.
Superintendent Danny Long said: "Throughout the programme and in the hours that have followed, we have been inundated with comments from members of the public, many of whom are concerned about elements of show which showed criminal activity."
The programme showed that some of the residents had already had involvement with local police.
"The Winson Green area of Birmingham is a diverse and vibrant community and the Soho neighbourhood policing team - which covers James Turner Street - enjoys a very positive relationship with local residents and community groups.
"Neighbourhood officers work alongside the area housing associations, partner organisations and the council on a daily basis to address the concerns of residents around issues of crime and anti-social behaviour - with local people very supportive of police action to tackle community safety issues."
James Turner Street residents told the Birmingham Mail newspaper on Monday that they had been tricked into appearing on the show, which they were told would highlight community spirit in the neighbourhood.
Instead they say they have been depicted as lazy scroungers, drug takers and irresponsible parents.
"They said they wanted to film for a TV show about how great community spirit is in the street and how we all help each other out on a daily basis," Dee Roberts told the Birmingham Mail.
"I participated in the show on that belief, but this programme has nothing to do with community, which you can tell from the title. It makes people out as complete scum.
Channel 4 told Sky News: "The production crew were filming in a purely observational capacity - at no stage was criminal behaviour encouraged or condoned.
"All contributors were briefed that if they carried out criminal activity on camera this could result in criminal investigations after broadcast."
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