Police staff investigated over social media gaffes
Two Kent Police staff members have resigned after breaching rules on using social media.
A constable quit after it emerged they were a member of a Facebook group that posts “discriminatory” comments and a civilian left their post for putting force information on Twitter while off duty.
They were among more than 50 workers investigated by the force for allegedly breaking guidelines on how to use social media sites in the five years to February 2014.
The Professional Standards Department found 36 officers or staff had cases to answer, with the two resigning and others dealt with by written warning or “advice”.
Cases included a PC who posted a photo of an incident, a PCSO who made “derogatory” comments in “offensive” language and other officers who talked about colleagues or the force.
Another PC was disciplined for having “inappropriate” Facebook contact with a crime victim, while a PC colleague added a person known to police as a “friend”.
Figures shows more than 800 police workers have been investigated in England and Wales since 2009 – ranging from social media gaffes to sackable offences that threatened to bring forces into disrepute.
Around one in every 10 of them led to someone losing their job, resigning or taking early retirement.
Det Ch Insp Eddie Fox, from the Kent Police Professional Standards Department, said: “Kent Police expects a high standard of professionalism from its officers and staff, on and off duty.
“This includes behaviour online, and the force produces guidance for officers and staff on how to use social media safely and appropriately. The vast majority of officers and staff do use social media in a responsible way.
“Any complaints around inappropriate use of social media are thoroughly investigated by our Professional Standards Department. Over five years (Jan 2009 to Feb 2014), our Professional Standards Department found 36 officers or staff had cases to answer, which equates to less than eight each year on average.
“Cases included where a photo of an incident was placed on social media, posts of a derogatory nature containing offensive language, and comments about colleagues or Kent Police force.
“In such cases, it is right that appropriate action is taken.
“In two instances during this time an employee chose to resign from Kent Police. The other 34 individuals were dealt with by way of a written warning, or with the officers or staff concerned given advice by management.”
Det Ch Insp Eddie Fox