Hundreds of UK police officers have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines, it has been revealed. The Press Association made a Freedom of Information request, which found officers had tried to befriend crime victims on Facebook and made racist comments online.
This follows reports in April that only 2 per cent of UK police were trained to deal with cyber crime. The College of Policing said there was "no place... for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public". Nine per cent of cases ended in resignation, dismissal or retirement of the 828 cases in England and Wales from 2009 to February 2014.
14 per cent of cases resulted in no further action, with the majority of cases being dealt with by offering advice to the officers investigated. Several forces said their staff were also investigated for alleged homophobic, racist or "religiously aggressive" comments.
The reaction amongst the general public on Twitter has largely been unsurprised.
Channel 4 reporter @mwilliamsthomas said: "Not surprised many police officers investigated over social media. Because forces discourage officers and don't understand how to use it."
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Feminist campaigner Caroline CriadoPerez (@CCriadoPerez), who received death threats for her campaign to get Jane Austen on the five pound note, also said she wasn't "hugely surprised" by the high numbers of police officers breaching social media guidelines.
The Metropolitan Police reported 69 investigations, but Greater Manchester Police topped the list with 88 over the period researched.
Chief Constable Alex Marshall, chief executive of the College of Policing, said: "People working in policing must always be mindful of the high standards that the public expect from us.
"Our code of ethics, which was launched last month, sets out the standards which everyone in the service should strive to uphold whether at work or away from work, online or offline."
Image credit: Flickr (Ian Britton)