Hundreds of police officers in England and Wales have been accused of breaches social media guidelines that include making racist and threatening comments, posing images of colleagues in compromising positions and sending Facebook friend requests to victims of crime.
The BBC reports that research by the Press Association found that of 828 cases from 2009 to February this year, nine per cent ended in resignation, dismissal or retirement.
The police regularly use Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and other social media platforms to connect with the public and to help with crime prevention and detection.
Guidelines set down by the Association of Chief Police Officers advises officers and police staff to avoid the internet while drinking alcohol or off-duty, warning individuals that if they are recognisable as police employees then they have to take into account the code of ethics.
They also warn of criminals trawling the internet to identify personal information about police employees “with a view to embarrassing, discrediting, harassing, corrupting or blackmailing them or their families for their own benefit”.
The guidelines add: “It is recommended police remove personal details from the edited electoral roll, ensure telephone numbers are ex-directory, ask Google maps to remove pictures of their house, car or persons.”
The Greater Manchester police reported the highest number of investigations (88) followed by West Midlands (74) and the Metropolitan police (69). Of the individuals investigated 548 were police officers, 174 were civilian employees and 31 were PCSOs.
Maybe the UK police could take some social media tips from officers in Ferguson, Missouri?