A series of stories emerged a few weeks ago surrounding several police Twitter accounts being “closed”. First there was a PCSO in Exeter who claimed that she had been “instructed to cease tweeting” following a complaint by a student guild. Devon & Cornwall Police explained that she had instead been offered training and the account is active again. Around the same time, a West Midlands officer was demoted, apparently due to Twitter misuse, while five Twitter accounts in Northamptonshire were abandoned following a HMIC inspection. This worries me: it feels like forces are attepting to shut the problem off at source, rather than considering the cultural role of social media.
Gordon Scobbie, who leads nationally on social media for the police, commented
“It comes down to the culture of an organisation and the degree of trust you have in your frontline officers. You have to allow them to make mistakes and deal with them as a mistake, rather than coming down heavily on them.”