Monday 13 June 2011

Police Code of Conduct approach to Social Media

An issue for us and many others is how you offer guidance to staff about their use of social media. Should we create a new set of rules to cover a new phenomenon or should you just use old ones. Is it really a "new thing" or is it really just normal networking in a digital environment.

It it;
Old Wine in new bottles,
New wine in old bottles, Or
New wine in New bottles.

If so what rules apply

In order to explore this we looked at a range of ideas and concluded that actually the existing Police Code of Conduct probably covered most use, but also why re-invent a set of rules or guidance for this particular arena when we are using the Code elsewhere.

So here is our new set of guidelines for officers based on the existing Code of Conduct.

Comments and feedback either to me or via the force website would be appreciated

To see it online go to

Honesty and integrity
Be honest, act with integrity and do not compromise or abuse position.

This means not abusing other social networking users, not disclosing information about
colleagues and not compromising your position as a member of staff or an officer.

Authority, respect and courtesy
Act with self-control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect
and courtesy.

This means ensuring that the language you use online is appropriate, you respect others views
and in making your own views, that you do so with respect for others. Light humour is often
helpful but you should ensure you do not offend others or give the impression that you do not
take your role in the police seriously.
It also means accepting that anything posted online is in the public domain, so if you wouldn't
say it to your boss, partner, a member of the public or even the media, don't say it online.

Equality and diversity
Act with fairness and impartiality; do not discriminate unlawfully or unfairly.

The language you use online and the information you post must not be offensive and must be
considerate to others. Again, if you wouldn't say it to your boss, partner or a member of the
public, don't say it online.

Orders and instructions
We will try and create as few restrictions as possible, as you are skilled and valued members of
the Constabulary.
Your access online is part of the trust we have in you as individuals. However, there are a few
things we will require: If you are using your work title or rank to identify yourself on a social
networking site, please use the corporate style for your background and profile picture, which is
available from the Marketing and Communications department. If your blog or twitter profile is
entirely private, and you do not wish to reflect the Constabulary, then do not use the force logo,
crest, or mention a connection to the Constabulary.
It is worth remembering, however, that it can be easy for people to identify you as members of
the police when you are online because of your online activity, what you write in posts,
retweeting force messages, etc. You should bare this in mind, and think about how your
personal comments could be interpreted by others.
Online Code of Conduct – Officers and Staff
Duties and responsibilities
Be diligent in the exercise of duties and responsibilities.

You need to be diligent online. If your colleagues do anything that you think is inappropriate
then discuss it with them, a supervisor or a member of the Marketing and Communications

Treat information with respect and access or disclose it only in the proper course of police

It is an offence to disclose information that is confidential, offline or online. Think before you
post as your language could inadvertently disclose an operation or its details. Simple
comments can reveal more complex information and lead to disclosures. If in doubt don't post.

Fitness for duty
When on duty, or presenting themselves for duty, officers and staff must be fit to carry out their
duties and responsibilities.

This is about understanding the limits of your knowledge and skills online. If you are not sure,
then ask a member of the Marketing and Communications department for advice and support.

Discreditable conduct
Behave in a manner which does not discredit the police service or undermine public
confidence, whether on or off duty.

Online, your posts can be viewed by the public and can easily be copied and posted by others.
Assume everything you post is in the public domain. Remember, if you post things that are
inappropriate, insulting or offensive this will be very difficult to remove. We all make simple
mistakes, but all equally need to be careful.

Challenging and reporting improper conduct
Report, challenge or take action against the conduct of colleagues which has fallen below the
standards of professional behaviour expected.

This is a clear direction that you have a duty to report matters that offend against the Standards
of Professional Behaviour both offline and online.

This has now been published on our website for other users information

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