34 Northamptonshire Police officers and staff investigated for misuse of social media

34 Northamptonshire Police officers or staff have been investigated for misuse of social media including Twitter and Facebook

Two special constables in Northampton resigned after they were pictured on Facebook in a “compromising position”, new information has shown.

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed 34 Northamptonshire Police officers or staff were investigated for breaching police guidelines on social media use, between January 1, 2009 and February 17, 2014.

Despite being one of the country’s smallest forces, Northamptonshire Police has the seventh highest number of social media misuse incidents out of the 39 forces who responded to the FoI.

Nationally, there were 828 cases of social media misuse and 548 of those investigated were police officers, 175 were civilian staff and 31 PCSOs.

About a seventh (14 per cent) of all investigations resulted in no further action or the personnel having no case to answer. This compared with around a tenth of cases (nine per cent) ending in a resignation, dismissal or retirement.

Richard Edmondson, Head of News and Communications at Northamptonshire Police, said officers and staff were required to abide by a “very clear and in-depth social media policy.”

He said: “Social media is used by a number of police officers, staff and departments who are employed by and volunteer for Northamptonshire Police and the Office of the Northamptonshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

“It is used as a platform to reinforce core priorities, engage with communities, identify concerns and emerging issues and post news releases and appeals for information.

“Everyone who uses social media is required to abide by a very clear and in-depth social media policy drawn up in conjunction with input from senior officers, our Professional Standards Department (PSD), the Police Federation and Unison.”

Mr Edmondson said the 20-page policy was kept up to date and outlined guidelines for its use as well as information on non-adherence.

The policy also provides information for employees and volunteers who use social media in a personal capacity outside of work.

Mr Edmondson said: “Posts on social media by staff or volunteers are also required to comply with the College Of Policing’s Code of Ethics.

“It wouldn’t be appropriate for us to discuss specific individuals, however, our PSD department does take disciplinary action when our officers and staff fail to meet the standards we would expect of them, including in the use of social media.”

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