West Midlands Police second worst for inappropriate use of social media
A total of 74 West Midlands Police staff have been investigated during the past five years for inappropriate use of social media – the second highest in the country.
Of the 39 police forces across England and Wales which responded to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, only Greater Manchester had a higher number of officers and civilian workers probed for breaching social media guidelines. A further four forces, including Staffordshire, refused to respond.
The figures come six months after Inspector Michael Brown had his account suspended – and later reinstated – following allegations of misuse surrounding his postings about mental health issues.
In the hours before his account was suspended, Mr Brown tweeted: "Yep – on nights now and have just had a right old time trying to resource everything going off.
"The worst thing about it all, is that it's mostly a result of really poor choices, that didn't need to be made. Costing lives and billions."
Across England and Wales, a total of 828 police employees have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines during the five years up to February this year. Alleged breaches ranged from social media gaffes to sackable offences which threatened to bring forces into disrepute.
In some instances nationally, staff made racist and threatening comments on Facebook and Twitter, sent friend requests to victims of crime and uploaded images of colleagues in 'compromising positions'.
Fourteen per cent of all investigations resulted in no further action or the personnel having no case to answer. This compared with nine per cent of cases ending in a resignation, dismissal or retirement.
In Lancashire, a member of civilian staff received a written warning over derogatory remarks posted on their Facebook page about a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) who had issued the staff member with a fine for dog fouling.
A Pc with the same force also received management action for allegedly making inappropriate remarks on Facebook about someone's wife, and another constable resigned over 'excessive and inappropriate use of the internet during working hours'.
A colleague received counselling after being pictured on Facebook asleep while on duty in the control room.
In Gwent, a Pc received a written warning after behaving inappropriately at a member of the public's home address and asking her to become a friend on Facebook.
A PCSO with Devon and Cornwall Police received a final written warning for posting photos on Facebook with weapons.
Two special constables in Northampton resigned after they were pictured on Facebook in a 'compromising position'.
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