Four Northamptonshire police officers have been ‘banned’ from Twitter by Wootton Hall bosses for sending innappropriate messages.
The officers, who were among more than 40 police officers and staff who have been tweeting about their jobs over the past few months, were told to leave the website because they breached force rules.
HMIC inspectors visited the force over the summer to look into how officers were using Twitter. Inspectors then gave feedback to Northamptonshire Police chiefs, who acted to remove the officers.
Among those told to leave the social networking site was @CharlieEcho468, who has since started tweeting from another private account.
He told his followers yesterday: “Thanks for the people that have started following from my old account @CharlieEcho468 one day I’ll tell you why I changed it.”
Another was Pc Jason Farquhar, who tweeted under the name @PcJase733. He tweeted: “All. I have some very sad news. For reasons I cannot explain I have to close this twitter account. This is not my decision.”
A force spokesman said: “We expect the highest standards from our officers and staff at all times and this is reflected in procedures regarding the use of social media across the force.
“This may be with regard to data protection, appropriateness of message and for investigative or legal reasons. We monitor the use of social media and at times it is necessary to ask for messages to be removed, adapted or indeed for an account to be closed.
“The force has in the region of 40 officers and staff tweeting and remains committed to engaging with communities in many ways including Facebook and Twitter.”
A spokesperson for HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) explained the summer visit came after the publication of a report in December 2011 into how police across the country deal with the media.
The spokesperson said: “In Without fear or favour (December 2011) we said that we intended to revisit the matters highlighted in this report. We are currently in the process of carrying out this follow up inspection.
“As part of this process we provide feedback - we have highlighted some issues to the force and we understand they have taken action.
“We haven’t yet made any recommendations in relation to this follow up inspection.”
What do you think? Have police taken the right action to crack down on inappropriate behaviour from officers or is it a draconian punishment that shows the police are out of touch with the public? Let us know your thoughts.