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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Cumbria police or staff investigated over breaching social media policy

SEVEN Cumbria police officers or staff were investigated over breaching social media policy, governing the use of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, since January 2009, according to documents.

Hundreds of police employees have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines at forces across England and Wales during a five-year period, according to information obtained by the Press Association.

Nationally police officers and civilians are said to have made racist and threatening comments on Facebook and Twitter, sent friend requests to victims of crime and uploaded images of colleagues in “compromising positions”, new details show.

Across England and Wales, a total of 828 cases were reported to police bosses, ranging from social media gaffes to sackable offences which threatened to bring forces into disrepute.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Duhig, head of the professional standards department at Cumbria Constabulary, said: “All employees are aware of the code of ethics and the online code of conduct.”

These guidelines set out what is expected of officers, which includes the use of social media.

Nationwide around one-seventh of all investigations resulted in no further action or the personnel having no case to answer. This compared with around one-tenth of cases ending in a resignation, dismissal or retirement.

DCI Duhig said: “Cumbria Constabulary takes any allegations made against any employee seriously and will investigate to ensure our communities can have trust and confidence.”

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 after it was alleged they made inappropriate remarks on Facebook regarding someone’s wife.

A fellow constable resigned over their “excessive and inappropriate use of the internet during working hours”, in particular the PC’s use of online auction sites. A colleague received counselling after an investigation into a Facebook photo of the staff member asleep whilst on duty in the Control Room.

According to Gwent Police, a PC acted inappropriately while attending a member of the public’s home address and asked her to become a friend on Facebook, later sending a message through the site. They received a warning.

Another PC also received the same punishment after using Facebook to send a message to a member of the public which was of an “abusive nature”.

A PCSO with Devon and Cornwall Police received a final written warning for posting photos on Facebook of themselves with weapons.

An employee with Dyfed Powys sent was accused of being “threatening, bullying and intimidating towards a complainant by sending private messages via Facebook”.

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