Police discipline 13 staff members for inappropriate social media behaviour

PUBLISHED: 09:00 24 May 2017

13 police officers were disciplined for their online conduct.

13 police officers were disciplined for their online conduct.

Archant

Avon and Somerset Constabulary has sacked two members of staff for inappropriate social media use since 2015, while several others have been disciplined for their online conduct.

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The force has launched a range of campaigns in recent years to advise the public on how to stay safe on social media, but several members of its staff have fallen short of its own guidelines.

A Mercury freedom of information request has revealed the force has disciplined 13 staff for breaking social media rules since the start of 2015.

Two members of staff were dismissed without notice for inappropriately using social media, while one employee was suspended for their actions.

Ten other police employees faced the wrath of management for breaking the force’s code of conduct on social networking sites.

The constabulary has run a number of campaigns to promote online safety, including creating an account on dating app Tinder to educate people who may be vulnerable to online predators.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary told the Mercury it would not comment on individual disciplinary cases, but highlighted the importance of social media in preventing and detecting crime.

A spokesman said: “We have around 5,000 employees – both police officers and staff – and expect any who use social media, whether in work or away from work, to adhere to the College of Policing’s code of ethics, which aims to ensure staff maintain integrity and the highest standards of behaviour.

“Any failure to comply with this will result in us looking into the matter and may result in criminal action or possible misconduct enquiries.

“We actively encourage staff to use our official Twitter and Facebook accounts to inform and engage with their local communities.

“It is a tool we use as part of our efforts to detect and prevent crime, often with astounding results.

“For example, CCTV footage taken from inside a couple’s home last year showed three burglars. We shared it on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

“The YouTube clip was viewed more than 500,000 times and reached 1.5 million people on Facebook. Following this two men were arrested and charged.”

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