Saturday, 19 March 2011
Social media and the Police
Last week ACPO brought some people together to look at the way we are addressing Social Media. Or should we call it Social Networking? I will use SN/M) Either way the Social comes first.
Gordon Scobbie DCC from Tayside has done some excellent work trying to bring ACPO Policy forward and it is good to see that it will be discussed at the forthcoming ACPO Conference.
ACPO itself has a range of policies but perhaps has no strategy.
The point of this blog is to address whether there should in fact be a strategy or whether the whole SN/M environment is moving so fast that a traditional strategy approach, including consultation, risk assessments and assorted policy option, will work.
In a recent presentation to SASIS I offered a few questions as my final slide these are:
• How do we use Social Media AND prevent abuse?
• How do we engage AND reflect before informing?
• What can you do to keep us safe to protect you?
• How can I keep my staff technically able?
So some comments on each
How do we use Social Media AND prevent abuse?
I think the issue here is how much do you trust your staff? And how risk averse do you want to be? Police officers, particularly, walk or drive the streets of the UK with Guns, CS Gas, Expanding Batons and have the power to seriously mess up a citizens day.
Yet many of us prevent them from accessing Facebook or Twitter. Mostly for fear that our staff will either waste time or do something to bring them, or us, into disrespect.
Simple management could prevent the former issue backed up with analysis and a ruthless determination to prevent abuse. The latter issue is managed by developing the trust relationship with staff
How do we engage AND reflect before informing?
This is the thinking gap between the construction of a comment and the posting. Simply, you can’t manage it through the normal organisational management rules. However, you can be considerate to those who make honest mistakes, and to offer sensible advice to those who may write something that is a little “different” and potentially insulting. The policy of “Just do It” is one that needs to be balanced against simple guidance to keep people out of trouble.
What can you do to keep us safe to protect you?
Posting SN/M is no good as a one way process. Many commentators on police tweets criticise us for being too “corporate” or not replying. It must not be one way flow. Web sites are here for the corporate message and the one way communications. However as we move into the SN/M environment we need to learn to be interactive and respond ASAP to questions and queries. Sometimes that is not possible. But we should at least acknowledge the question then seek and answer.
Likewise we need the advice and guidance of better informed commentators and sometimes commercial providers to keep us safe to provide opportunities to protect our citizens.
How can I keep my staff technically able?
I think that the use of SN/M will provide staff with technical and communication skills that would otherwise have to be delivered in a classroom or simply ignored. I think getting our own staff to use contemporary communications tools is not just important, it is invaluable, if we want to keep policing relevant to our citizens
So, in trying to fulfil the criteria I set out in the first blog. My thoughts are that we should do everything possible to get our staff using SN/M. This brings a host of risks and problems. To allow and encourage use requires a different kind of leadership. Perhaps a leadership that is reasonable in addressing risk, yet supportive when criticism is made.
I hope that this blog creates some comments and some response.
If you want to respond, just do it.
Thanks for reading this
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