Police apologise for 'inappropriate' TweetBy Amy Taylor
March 11, 2013
POLICE in Aldershot have defended the importance of social media for officers after apologising for an ‘inappropriate’ message sent out on Twitter.
The tweet, sent on February 28 from the @AldershotPolice account, began: “Female arrested yesterday in town centre for theft of meat products and public order offences, then spat at an officer.”
It was followed by a sexual reference.
The nature of the message provoked a flurry of responses from people following the account. One tweet, from @amethystspirit, aka Catherine Farmbrough, said: “Come on you can do better hashtag than that!! Tut tut...”
Another, from Paul Adam (@pauladam1984) added: “Shouldn’t you get a fine for that??#OneRuleForOneAndOneRuleForAnother”.
A second message was sent out by police soon afterwards, apologising to ‘anyone who was offended by our last tweet’ – causing other site users to respond more positively.
Paul Camm, known as @MrCamm, said “people need to lighten up a bit”, while Mandy Morgan (@_Mandy_Morgan_) replied “well, I found it funny”.
The social networking website is used by police teams in both Aldershot and Farnborough to communicate more directly with members of the public, and to provide information about ongoing appeals.
The @AldershotPolice account is available to all officers who wish to use it, and is manned by different people at different times of the day, depending on their schedules. It has been praised in the past for putting a more personal touch on local policing, and safer neighbourhoods inspector Jon Turton said it was of ‘real value’ to the force.
“Social media is a fantastic way for our officers and staff to interact and engage with their local communities and allows us to display a more human side to policing,” said Mr Turton. “We have had some real successes in our use of Facebook and Twitter to circulate witness appeals, CCTV images, requests for information about missing people and updates on ongoing incidents and it adds real value to our ability to communicate directly with the public.
“By encouraging our officers and staff to use these communications channels, we expect them to behave on social media sites in the same way as they would in any interaction with a member of the public and adhere to the professional standards required.”
A police spokesman added that officers were encouraged to use the account, but they were advised not to give out more information to the public than they would in person.
Mr Turton said the officer who had sent the controversial tweet had been spoken to and reminded of the guidelines for using social media sites.
“On this occasion, the message about the woman arrested for shoplifting was inappropriate; we apologised for any offence it caused and removed it from our account.
“The officers involved were also dealt with internally.”