27 August 2013 | Team Tamar

In the news: Are Police Forces Using Twitter Effectively?


Police forces faced harsh criticism at the end of last week after an article claimed misuse of the social channel Twitter.  The article published in The Telegraph hit out at the police for using their official accounts to follow celebrities, sports teams and fashion brands. The police account for Lambeth, South London, was subject to complaints after it was found to be following the likes of Rihanna, Simon Cowell and Justin Bieber. In response to the criticism some forces strongly defended their use of social media claiming it helped them ‘keep in touch with the public’.

Here at Tamar, we agree that there are great examples of where the police and celebrity engagement actually provide benefits in helping to crackdown on crime. Today, our very own CEO Tanya Goodin gave her thoughts on tonight’s ITN News about the positive impact that celebrity engagement can provide in facilitating the crime fighting process. Not only does celebrity endorsement in the re-tweeting of police appeals manage to resonate better amongst young people, but it can also achieve a much wider reach. The accounts of the aforementioned celebrities all have followings of well over 1million, Simon Cowell is a great example of a celebrity with over 7 million followers and who can easily reach more people on a much shorter time scale.

If you remember the horrors of the London riots back in August 2011, Twitter provided a great opportunity for the police to identify and arrest rioters who recklessly took to the social platform to brag and show off stolen loot.  Similarly, the police in Northamptonshire have been able to use Twitter to raise awareness in drink driving using the hashtag #alcoholharm.  Asides this, police have been able to identify hate crimes and monitor racists comments in the public domain, most recently being the arrest of the disrespectful ‘joke’ tweet surrounding the Woolwich attack on solider Lee Rigby.

It’s clear that the use of Twitter for police forces is having a positive impact in the engagement of local communities and the monitoring of antisocial behaviour. However, it seems police forces are already been told to create much stricter guidelines and control over their accounts. Gordon Scobbie, the ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) who is responsible for social media said, “I can understand following some politicians, celebrities with a cause, or perhaps local celebrities, but not Rihanna and Justin Bieber.” So it seems that there could be much stricter regulations as to which celebrities constitute as being beneficial in following.

We’d love to know your thoughts, watch the news item below, tweet us @tamaruk or leave a comment.

Team Tamar