Police staff investigated for misusing social media

Dorset Echo: Ten members of staff have been investigated over the misuse of social media Ten members of staff have been investigated over the misuse of social media

TEN members of staff at Dorset Police have been investigated for misusing social media in the past five years – leading to the resignation of one employee.

Data obtained from a Freedom of Information request has provided a breakdown of each investigation.

The 10 investigations, which were carried out between January 1, 2009, and February 17, 2014, have related to:

  •  Inappropriate deletion and adjustment of social media profile
  •  Inappropriate comments made via Twitter
  •  Inappropriate disclosure of information on Twitter
  •  Inappropriate or offensive remarks made via Twitter and Facebook  
  • Inappropriate comments/use of Facebook
  •  Inappropriate disclosure of police information
  • The investigations involved four members of police staff and six police constables.

One of the investigations was discontinued as a staff member resigned prior to their hearing.

Four investigations resulted in misconduct meetings and management advice.

Meanwhile, two cases resulted with management action and one with a local resolution. In two investigations there was no case to answer.

The request was submitted by the Parliament Street think tank, which was sent to 28 police forces across England and Wales.

A total of 519 incidents were reported across the country between 2009 and 2014. Nearly 90 officers faced disciplinary hearings over the issue last year.

Clare George-Hilley, director of Parliament Street, said: “Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook play a vital role in tackling crime and building community relations. However, these findings demonstrate a haphazard approach to social media.”

In comparison to Dorset Police, the Metropolitan Police, the UK’s largest police force, has had 71 officers facing allegations of inappropriate behaviour since 2010.

Dorset Police said they were unable to comment on internal investigations.

A statement from the force said: “Dorset Police promote and actively encourage the use of social media by officers and staff who are expected to follow our social media guidelines.

“Any reported misuse is thoroughly investigated and offenders found to have committed criminal offences are prosecuted.

“Disciplinary matters are dealt with by our professional standards department. We are unable to provide any further details.”

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