Police officers investigated for social media posts

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A Freedom of Information request revealed that hundreds of police officers in the UK have been investigated for posting homophobic, threatening and racist messages on social media.

From 2009 to February 2014, nine per cent of 828 cases in England and Wales ended in dismissal, resignation or retirement.

About 14 per cent of the cases resulted in no further action, while the majority were dealt with by providing advice to the officer in question.

Greater Manchester Police posted the highest number of investigations with 88, followed by West Midlands with 74 and the Metropolitan Police with 69.

Cases that were investigated included a community support officer with the Devon and Cornwall Police who was handed a written warning after posting photos with weapons on Facebook.

A sergeant at Avon and Somerset Police was dismissed this year after sending more than 800 tweets that criticised his senior officers, while a 35-year-old Metropolitan Police officer was sacked in 2011 after calling another officer a “liar” and other names on Facebook.

Forces are increasingly using social media to appeal to witnesses, while some officers are encouraged to post stories and pictures of life on the beat.

However, the practice has raised concerns that the police are now spending much of their time monitoring abusive comments on social media sites such as Twitter including those by their own officers, with some even falling foul for their overzealous use of such platforms.

According to Chief Constable Alex Marshall, head of the College of Policing: “Where people working in policing have undermined their own reputation or that of the wider service, they must face appropriate action.”

“There is no place in policing for officers who abuse the trust placed in us by the public.”