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Policing & Tweeting the rise and fall

Policing & Tweeting in recent months has been subjected to lots of debate, There are four types of policing and tweeting accounts.

  1. The Corporate accounts with the big followings and the blue ticks
  2. The individual officers who have worked hard to build up accounts up by engaging with the public
  3. The anonymous officers behind the smoke screens, without these we’d not see every coin of policing.
  4. The divisional accounts and team accounts.

We’ll make our views a little clear when it comes to Tweeting and Policing, We don’t usually comment on the politics of things, But we feel we need to make the public aware that accounts are being shut down daily.

Corporate tweeting builds the foundations, But Officers turn them into homes and welcome us in. 

Corporate tweeting is also a good start for policing and tweeting, it allows the forces media teams to send out one clear message, Launch appeals and reduce the prospect of fake news, they can speak directly to followers but lack that human to human contact.

The individual officer accounts, are loved by many and show members of the public the human side of policing they enable communities to break down the barriers that the corporate accounts offer, on a scale that cannot be achieved anywhere else.

The Anonymous accounts, Well we know these accounts are well respected but don’t want to be publically named they can say the things the individual officer accounts would not really get away with and expose some of the more trending policing topics across social media while offering great support and context for the thin blue line. We have a lot to learn from these accounts and often a lot to fear.

The Divisional accounts are not a new thing, many have been going for years, but mainly set up by officers who did not want to put their name to the social media accounts, cops who wanted to tweet but from the screen of the divisional team or unit. There are many fantastic divisional and team accounts engaging in such a brilliant way but these are manned by as little as one or two people.

Personally, Police Hour is looking for positive social media, social media that shines a good light on the great communities the police officers work in and the great work that the officers are doing. After all, not everyone is bad, We don’t want to see the negative tweets we want to celebrate policing and work together in a light that is supportive of the thin blue line.

The Rise 

In 2006, Policing Professional Standards teams would hunt out officers, they’d arrest them and discipline them they’d be forced to remove the account and we are talking about accounts with over 35K followers, for those that remember Das Beard.

This happened because simply the police had no idea about the power of Twitter and how good it could be as a force for good.

Then one day Twitter was a thing, Twitter within policing meant something, the corporate accounts began piling on to Twitter launching and opening their own Twitter Accounts.

Tweeting and Policing was suddenly something that worked, and all of a sudden hundreds of officers were encouraged to open accounts, Tweeting was trendy and we think that was down to the hard work of the Police Twitter Awards team.

The Fall

At some point towards the end of 2017, the powers that be within Policing believed that knocking off one account at a time would go unnoticed, The official standpoint would be ‘We are not banning officers from Twitter, We are changing the way we tweet’ so, in a nutshell, they are forcing policy in the faces of policing and tweeting accounts and saying they must stop tweeting on their personal accounts which have in some cases earned followings of up to 30K people to be switched to a shared account with no followers so they can start again and build everything up from nothing for the good of the ‘corprate teams’

It sounds more professional doesn’t it, of course, it does in fact if you are a bit of a pen pusher the idea is fantastic. Let’s crush thousands of established twitter accounts and force the officers to simply switch to ours that does not yet work,

Honestly, if you think these officers are going to want to keep tweeting after being banned from using their own accounts you’d really need to think again.

The truth is the public love the individual officer accounts, they’ve done such a fantastic job at engaging the public and providing the online world has no barriers when it comes to human to human contact, without the corporate side of things.

We all know these anonymous and named accounts pose no risk to policing and tweeting and are actually the accounts that restore and maintain the public faith in policing, these are the people we support, laugh with and cry with along the way.

Policing voices are being silenced under new social media policy

Somewhere in policing someone hates social media and does not like the way in which it is increasing confidence within policing and breaking barriers because policing voices are being silenced and shut down.

Policing and Twitter has enabled police officers to communicate with their communities like never before, increasing engagement, building bridges and ensuring members of the community can see highlights of what is happening within their local community, adding a personality to the local policing team and simply making people smile.

They enable members of the public to see that our police officers are just like us and that they are actually human with a sense of humour, But Professional Standards and force policy are putting a stop and attempting to kill the strong policing tweeting community they are silencing a large number of accounts.

Many Police Inspectors, Police Officers and Special Constables are finding they are being called into the offices with senior management teams and being forced to hand over the passwords of their accounts, or shut down their twitter policing accounts.

In a time of police cuts, POLICE HOUR believes this is the real reason that officers are having their voices taken away, they simply do not want the public to see the real picture. The once highly supported accounts who have been fully approved via the internal forces processes are now in certain forces being shut down.

Despite this officers are even being forced to lock down their own accounts or close them completely, controlling the way officers are using social media.

Very few forces actually get the benefit of social media 

Some police officers out there who tweet are very lucky and find themselves supported by their police force, because these forces have truly grasped technology with the right guidelines in place to encourage tweeting in the right way.

It’s all about learning what you can and can’t say on social media and when it all goes wrong it’s simply a mistake, a simple tweet and these should be supported by senior officers in forces.

Many forces do support these because when they get it right the power of Twitter can be amazing and engage communities and people across the world like never before in creative ways and in ways the public can relate too.

How can a police officer become a police tweeter?

Police Staff and Police Officers can apply to run their own Twitter account, but they must follow forces internal policy and submit a business needs request in order to run an official account, and they must then face the senior management team and a decision will then be made by the chief constable based on the reasoning for wanting to open a policing twitter account. It’s not an easy road.

Connecting all the cogs. 

Why fix something if it’s not broken. There is a need for the corporate divisional accounts, but why not let the officers still keep their private accounts tweeting they way they tweet and then achieve the vision of the new divisional accounts all the cogs need to keep working otherwise the wheel is going to fall off.

The good work of these tweeting accounts need to continue and we need to ensure we get behind and continue to support the very quickly disappearing popular accounts going daily.

Tweeting on an individual level also has a weight of personal responsibility attached that can only be limited to that named officer which would be limited to a few comments about the force whereas tweeting on corporate account risks the reputation of the force rather than just the name officer.

Do let us know your views on Tweeting and Police by dropping @PoliceHour a tweet.

Let us know your views by tweeting @PoliceHour We'll feature the best tweets within the article.

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