Police social media probe

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Lancashire Police has investigated 43 cases of staff breaching social media guidelines, it has been revealed.

Hundreds of police employees have been probed for breaking Facebook and Twitter rules at forces across England and Wales during a five-year period.

A total of 828 cases were reported to police bosses, ranging from social media gaffes to sackable offences which threatened to bring forces into disrepute.

In Lancashire, a member of civilian staff received a written warning over derogatory remarks posted on their Facebook page about a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who had issued the staff member with a fine for dog fouling.

A Pc with the same force also received management action after it was alleged they made inappropriate remarks on Facebook regarding someone’s wife. A fellow constable resigned over their “excessive and inappropriate use of the internet during working hours”, in particular the PCs use of online auction sites, internet banking and social networking sites.

A colleague received counselling after an investigation into a Facebook photo of the staff member asleep while on duty in the Control Room.

Various forces also said there were investigations into comments that were deemed homophobic, racist or “religiously aggressive”.

Greater Manchester Police reported the most investigations (88), followed by West Midlands (74) and the Met (69).

Additional details provided by most forces under Freedom of Information laws showed 548 of those investigated were police officers, compared with 175 civilian staff and 31 PCSO.

Chief Constable Alex Marshall, chief executive of the College of Policing, said: “People working in policing must always be mindful of the high standards that the public expect from us.

“Our code of ethics sets out the standards which everyone in the service should strive to uphold whether online or offline.

“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 other staff losing their jobs.

“There is no place in policing for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public.”

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “It is important to acknowledge that the majority of police officers perform their duties with the utmost integrity, discretion and in accordance with the high standards of behaviour rightly expected of them by the public”