A POLICE force has been criticised for stopping its officers from posting as individuals on social media - instead asking them to use eight district channels for sharing news and views.

North Yorkshire Police says it has made the changes in line with recommendations from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC).

It is intended to reduce the risk that information and crimes reported via officer's individual Twitter accounts - that are not monitored daily - could be missed.

Instead, news will be shared via eight regional accounts and the overarching North Yorkshire Police account.

The change, announced today, has attracted widespread criticism on social media, with many Twitter users accusing the force of losing a vital connection with the public by closing individual officers' accounts.

Twitter user Foxtrot Cop, followed by more than 11,000 people, said: "Has North Yorkshire Police gone stark raving mad?

"Why on earth would you close all of your individual accounts and lose the chance to have millions more interactions?

"People want to hear from the cops on the ground, not pre-written, drab statements from corporate comms."

Former Met and North Yorkshire Police officer-turned-author Mike Pannett tweeted: "Massive PR failure if they do close individual accounts.

"Especially in these times, clearly no concept of what social media can achieve."

Another said: "A bland corporate face, with bland corporate announcements. "Talking at the public rather than interacting with them.

"Pulling the drawbridge up to make the police look even more isolated and aloof.

"Then they'll wonder why the public will shun them as not part of general society."

The North Yorkshire Police dog handling team has 12,600 Twitter followers and hundreds of those expressed their disappointment when the team tweeted that their account was closing.

Tweet explaining the closure of the K9 account

Tweet explaining the closure of the K9 account

One Twitter user said: "What a terribly disheartening decision by the powers that be.

"Police dogs are hugely important for morale of staff and public alike.

"Why remove an avenue of good rapport and education from taxpayers when it is desperately needed?

"Please re-think the decision!"

Another said: "So sorry to read what is happening within @NYorksPolice and their big PR disaster.

"Wish you and others all the best, will miss the interaction and seeing amazing work each officer and dog have been up to."

Many Twitter users called on the force to re-think the policy and allow officers to continue connecting with individuals rather than using 'sterile and bland' corporate accounts.

North Yorkshire Police maintain that the new policy will better serve the public, adding that other forces are already following this approach and have condensed their accounts, resulting in an improvement in public satisfaction and feedback.

A spokesman said: "The changes we are putting in place will see fewer North Yorkshire Police social media accounts in order to make it easier for our communities to find the latest updates from the force and what is happening in their area.

"This will also enable us to respond to the issues that matter to our communities more quickly and effectively.

"Currently, we are reducing our accounts which cover geographic areas and moving to eight district accounts.

"They will continue to be managed by our local teams.

Twitter users express their disappointment at the social media changes

Twitter users express their disappointment at the social media changes

"Further down the timeline, we will be changing our approach to individual and specialist team accounts and this will be communicated moving forward.

"Our many officers, staff and teams who already post and share social media content have not been banned from posting.

"We know that the public enjoy the insight into policing that these provide.

"We will be asking them to share that engaging, interesting and personal content across our force wide and district accounts and some have already started doing this.

"If they wish to, they will be able to include their name so the public still know who is the ‘voice’ behind the post.

"By providing officers with access to our official accounts their ‘voices’ will be able to reach a larger audience.

"These changes will improve the service we provide to our communities through social media, enabling them to receive the North Yorkshire Police content they need through fewer channels."

The force has also responded to the barrage of online criticism by tweeting that it will hold a session on Twitter between 2pm and 3pm tomorrow to answer questions about the social media changes using #AskNYorksPolice.

Names and details of the new official police channels can be found here