Police Forces Using Social Media Successfully

SocialB Digital Marketing Blog Last modified: 04 Apr 2019 by Simon Badman
Social Media

At SocialB we’ve had the great privilege of working with a number of police forces on our social media training courses.  We’ve been impressed by how quickly they’ve grasped the idea of linking their organisational objectives to their social strategies and how they’re equipping colleagues to embrace social channels.

Social media as an extension of community policing

Police forces in the UK and further afield are seeing their social media accounts as a way of informing and engaging with their local communities.

Some of the most successful forces on social have trained and empowered their colleagues to tweet, post, blog and create videos. The local public gets to know their officers on the beat and are informed directly on issues that arise in their local communities, from road closures due to accidents, through appeals for witnesses.

Recently a PSCO and a Sergeant won awards for their social media activity. Saltash-based PSCO Kirsty Downs won “Best Tweeting PCSO” in December while Sgt Harry Tangye won “Best Tweeting Sergeant”. Both regularly tweet and effectively engage with their communities.

PSCO Downs provides great insight into her work through her tweets and also is able to break news on emerging incidents, from crime to traffic reports.

Sgt Tangye recently started to use Periscope for his incident updates. He’s also not afraid to respond to negative and troll-like comments and does so with a bit of humour.

Sgt Tangye has also been blogging for just under a year, providing longer content and an insight on issues that he faces in his role.

We’ve also been particularly impressed by PC Conran who similarly has been pursuing community policing through his Twitter account.

PC Alan Conran uses Twitter to respond to public questions, using a 30 second video, recorded from his phone, to reply to why some incidents require a higher number of police cars and sometimes a helicopter in attendance.

We think its great content – both unique and informative.

Social media’s role in investigations

Police forces have been keen to exploit social media for their work on investigations. Social media is a great place to inform and reassure the public once an incident has taken place. It’s also ideally suited to engage with your community for witness appeals and evidence requests. Some forces have seen their social media engagement playing a significant role in leading to convictions.

After the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Boston PD used Twitter and Facebook immediately to update the public on the emerging situation. Posts on fatalities, injuries and road and transport disruption kept Bostonians informed on what was happening, often counteracting reports released by media channels.

Social media also then was used to pass evidence to the police and FBI, with users being encouraged to submit their photos and videos from the marathon via Twitter and Facebook.

Public campaigning and raising awareness

Social media has also seen forces working together with other agencies on joint public campaigns. March 2016 saw Essex Police and safeguarding partners launch the “Know About Child Sexual Exploitation” campaign under the #KnowAboutCSE” hashtag.

Very quickly forces around the UK have picked up on this and started to promote the campaign themselves using simple but effective images, containing messages of support written on the hand. We’ve been really impressed by the way the Police have beenquick to adopt social media and use it effectively to engage with their communities.

Have you seen any Police forces using social media well? We’d love to hear from you.

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