Hundreds of police staff investigated over misuse of social media

First published in News by

POLICE officers and staff posted racist and threatening comments and uploaded pictures of colleagues in compromising positions on social networking sites, research has revealed.

Hundreds of police employees from across the country have been investigated for breaching social networking policies, according to information obtained by the Press Association (PA).

In the past five years, 828 cases were investigated - including 46 in North Yorkshire, 24 in Northumbria,15 in Cleveland and one in County Durham.

A variety of offences were detailed in the documents obtained - including the case of a PC who allegedly insulted someone’s wife on Facebook and another case in which a PC received a written warning after sending a message of an “abusive nature” to a member of the public.

A civilian officer posted a comment on a Facebook account regarding the actions of Muslims in central London failing to observe a two-minute silence while two special constables in Northampton resigned after being pictured in a compromising position.

North Yorkshire Police declined to provide information about the exact nature of their investigations but said two people had resigned and three were given a final written warning as a result.

The force has the fourth highest number of recorded investigations nationwide with the ranks of those investigated, including a detective constable, two inspectors and 28 PCs.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, said: “The high number of investigations into reported breaches of the force’s social media policy reflects how seriously we take the integrity of our staff.

“Each report is thoroughly investigated by our Professional Standards Department. If a staff member is found to have breached the standards expected of them they can expect to be dealt with appropriately.

“I would like to reassure the public that all police officers and police staff are committed to the national Code of Ethics, which provides clear guidance on the use of social media and social media networking sites.”

The majority of investigations conducted by Cleveland Police involved inappropriate comments being made on Facebook and Twitter, with one staff member contacting a member of the public to say they were dealing with an accident involving their friend.

The force is now reviewing its social media policy.

About a tenth of cases nationwide ended in resignation, dismissal or retirement while a seventh of all investigations resulted in no further action.

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