Social Media Is Not Without Its Risks

The dust hasn’t even settled on the James Patrick situation.  We haven’t heard the last of that yet

Now we have another absolute travesty of justice (justice?) or so it would seem.

It seems as though the wrong man has been sacked for being a Twitter user.

I’m not familiar with either of the Account Holders, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored.

If the blog STOP STIGMA is to be believed, an Avon and Somerset Police Officer has been sacked for being Twitter User @TheBritishCop.

I don’t know the true identity of either person, nor if they are even known to each other, but I suspect not.

The full story, together with various links, can be found on the above blog.  The main problem, however, is that the Professional Standards Department of Avon and Somerset Police have allegedly conducted a disciplinary hearing and ignored the fact that the officer was not the correct one.

The head of A&S Professional Standards has allegedly been in communication with @TheBritishCop (who maintains that he is NEITHER this officer, nor even a member of Avon and Somerset Constabulary, but has for some reason omitted this vital piece of information from the disciplinary files.

If this is true then this is clearly an unacceptable situation.  Professional Standards Departments should behave in exactly that manner – PROFESSIONALLY.  They do nothing for the confidence of public or their officers if they, themselves, deviate from the straight and narrow.

Then today I find myself contacted by an officer from the Western bit of the UK who tells me that he’s under investigation AGAIN for his use of Twitter.  I have no idea what the specific issue is there but it’s making a bit of a nonsense of Police use of Twitter & other Social Media.  To be effective (in my opinion) a Twitter/SM account needs to be balanced between humourous and professional. If it’s too dry and stuffy people will disengage, but neither should it be discreditable in any way.

The Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset Police recently made much of his Force being awarded a Gold Award by Investors in People.  How does that fit with (allegedly) sacking the wrong person.  Sacking has huge repercussions for the person being sacked, even when it’s the right person.  Imagine the effect if/when it’s the wrong person.

I implore Avon and Somerset to either justify their actions and convince us that they’ve actually disciplined and sacked the right person, or re-examine this case as a matter of urgency.  One way or the other it can’t be left hanging there, and public confidence needs to be restored before too much damage is caused. It’s out there, there’s nothing you can do about that.

Finally, I do think there’s a moral obligation on @TheBritishCop to put this right, but I also understand how he/she probably fears the same fate awaits him/her if reported to his/her Force, assuming he/she really is a cop.