This policy is quite important as there have been examples of the police prosecuting members of the public using social media including twitter.

By contrast, there have been police officers and staff both on and off duty who have misused social media breaching the above policy and have avoided action sometimes due to the lack of knowledge by citizens of what the police can and cannot do.

This is a fairly short and easy to read policy however; a couple of key paragraphs have been reproduced below to give a flavour of how social media should be used by the police.

"Hampshire Constabulary uses social media to engage residents of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in two-way communication, with the aim of increasing satisfaction, sharing information, bringing about safer communities and improving public confidence. The use of social media also enables us to engage with harder to reach groups."

"Effective use of social media ensures that Hampshire Constabulary is not exposed to security risks or reputational damage. Employees must ensure that they use social media sensibly and responsibly. All usage must be for a policing purpose."

"All requests for information that fall under FOI received via social media should be forwarded to the Public Access Office to be dealt with in accordance with the legislation."

"Any breaches of this policy or associated procedure and guidance documents will, by default, also be a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour and an assessment will be made under the misconduct process as to the seriousness of the breach. This ultimately could lead to misconduct proceedings where the full range of outcomes would be available, including dismissal."


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