North Yorkshire Police have taken to Twitter to defend a move that sees popular officers forced to close their social media accounts.
Individual accounts are being closed in favour of a smaller number of regional or division ones.
They have been holding a question and answer session today (Wednesday) between 2 and 3pm on the Twitter platform.
Earlier this week they explained why they were doing this, saying it followed a national initiative from chief police officers. But not every force is going down this route – the Northamptonshire police chief has said his officers will retain their individual accounts.
Deputy Chief Constable at North Yorkshire Police, Phil Cain, has been talking about it to David Dunning for The Late Late Show on YorkMix Radio. He says the people who you enjoy following will still be free to tweet on the main accounts and identify themselves.
Police received a steady stream of questiions.
Jacqui Stephenson said: “Given the amount of stations being closed surely it’s better that individual officers build up the rapport with their local communities using social media.
“A lot of your officers use social media responsibily and engage with the public .
“I’ve often learned a lot from reading the Twitter feed of individual officers. It gives a real insight as to what they are facing as well as showing that they are human beings as well. Using the bland corporate accounts takes that away.”
In reply @Nyorkspolice said: “Our officers will continue to run and share content across our 8 district accounts. The same personalities and faces will be on social media to engage and share their views, just through fewer accounts.”
Gary Silvester said: “I’m sorry I just don’t see how it can be as personal as individual accounts as that’s what I and many others enjoy.
“I’m a big supporter of the police. This whole policy strikes me that you don’t trust the officers completely.”
North Yorkshire Police replied “Social media posts will not need to be approved, the accounts will still be run by local teams.
“We absolutely trust our officers, this is about improving service and responsiveness to the public through social media and giving people a place to find content more easily.”
Many just not convinced
Twitter user Heather Tomlinson said: “I’d just like to complain about the changes. I prefer to hear from police officers directly, rather than filtered through the media relations office. Please reverse the changes.”
Terry Howard said: “By removing personal accounts of officers you are dehumanising the force when the public WANT to see & hear from the men & women under the uniform without the corporate filter.
“Trust in your cops, trust in the public. You are ‘fixing’ something which isn’t broken.”
The Chief Constable of North Yorkshire has said that this is something they are doing in line with recommendations from the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC)
North Yorkshire isn’t the only force to follow these guidelines. But some Chief Constables have rejected it, like Nick Adderly in Northamptonshire:
North Yorkshire Police say: “Each force has their own decision to make on national recommendations.
“We see an unmet need from our public on social media & by reducing our accounts we will be in the best position to respond to that need for engagement and response.”
Meanwhile today saw a lot of final messages from accounts with many followers
Lib Dem PFCC candidate calls for re-think on Police social media policy
James Barker, Liberal Democrat Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner candidate for North Yorkshire, has called on Police chiefs to review their decision to scrap the area-based social media accounts used by local officers.
James Barker fears that the move will be counter-productive and has called on Police chiefs to reconsider. “I want to see the Police build stronger relationships with local communities, and two-way communication is key to that. Residents value the localised information that is made available via these social media channels and I really can’t understand the thinking that has led to these being scrapped.”