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UK police have been fired for social media misuse

Freedom of information request finds bad practices
Tue Aug 19 2014, 17:20
The UK police make threatening and racist posts on social networking sites

UK POLICE OFFICERS have rather alarming relationships with social media, as discovered through freedom of information requests, and some have lost their jobs over it.

This news comes from the Press Association based on responses to freedom of information requests. These found that a number of officers have got in trouble and that a number of those that did lost their jobs. Of the 828 cases investigated between 2009 and February 2014 nine percent ended in resignation, retirement or dismissal.

A report by Press Association journalist Ryan Hooper has been published on the Wales Online news website, and it includes details about some of the cases.

There we learn that coppers have posted images of themselves with weapons to Facebook, have shared photos of themselves in "compromising positions" and have expressed racist opinions.

One copper resigned over the "excessive and inappropriate use of the internet during working hours", while another "received management action" for making a comment about someone's wife on a social network.

The UK College of Policing says that most of its woodentops do behave well, which is already suggested in the figures. It also accepted the fate of those disciplined, including terminations.

"People working in policing must always be mindful of the high standards that the public expect from us. The vast majority of police officers and staff uphold these high standards and in many cases are responsible for challenging and reporting colleagues who act improperly or unlawfully. Where people working in policing have undermined their own reputation or that of the wider service, they must face appropriate action," said chief executive of the College of Policing, chief constable Alex Marshall.

"These figures include relatively minor matters, which can be dealt with by management advice, through to cases of misconduct which, quite rightly have resulted in officers and staff losing their jobs. There is no place in policing for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public."

The Police Federation of England and Wales said that social media is a key tool for the authorities, and added that it is important that its use is backed by training.

"Social media is an incredibly useful tool for engaging with local communities and gathering intelligence. Forces must ensure officers are effectively trained and aware of the latest social media protocols," said Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales.

"Officers have an important story to tell and it is vital the public hears what they have to say. Officers are always on duty and need to abide by the codes of conduct and ethics governing their behaviour but should feel free to be able to express themselves within those boundaries without the fear of censure."

14 percent of investigations resulted in no action being taken. µ


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