New guidelines for online behaviour have been set for police forces all over the country, after data showed that there were over 800 investigations into alleged breaches of social media code of conduct.
While police officers understand the potential risks of documenting their personal lives through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, they have now received a stricter set of rules to follow to ensure that they avoid embarrassment.
There have been 821 instances where policemen and women have been investigated or warned regarding their behaviour on these social platforms between January ‘09 and February this year. News suppliers have been alerted to these figures, which show that Greater Manchester topped the rankings with a total of 88 incidents, followed by the West Midlands with 74.
The UK’s police forces often use social networking sites to launch appeals for information and to notify the public, but employees are being warned about their behaviour through their personal accounts. The guidelines discourage officers from using these platforms when off-duty, especially when under the influence of alcohol, as judgment may be impaired.
While implementing this new code of conduct, some forces have taken a light-hearted approach to the situation, advising staff not to post about the food they eat and to avoid tweeting in ‘text speak’.
Some forces have issued a simple rule:
“If you wouldn’t say it to your boss, partner, grandmother or a member of the public, don’t say it online.”
Officers have been reminded that the public expects high standards of them at all times. For businesses and individuals too, following a similar rule may work wonders from a reputation management standpoint.