Some British police officers are being a bit too social on Facebook, and sometimes inappropriately so: 150 officers have been disciplined, at least two fired and seven forced to quit because of comments or photos they shared on the social networking site between 2008 and 2010.
The information was released to the Press Association, which filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents from a government investigation about police corruption. Among the findings: There is a "significant blurring" between officers' personal and professional lives on social networking sites such as Facebook, and that officers' activities on such sites may need to be monitored from now on.
The officers in question — from 41 of 43 police forces in England and Wales — used Facebook to share information about police operations, or indicate they helped attack members of the public during protests, and in some cases got quite personal, posting inappropriate photos or harassing former colleagues.
"We found a significant blurring between people's professional lives on social networking sites and their private lives which may be in the public domain and private lives which probably should remain extremely private," said Roger Baker, who led the investigation for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, according to the Belfast Telegraph.
The newspaper noted that one officer was fined three days' pay "after he called for violence against suspects in custody."
Under a video of a youth with a knife being tackled by officers in a police station, he wrote: "Look at this stupid c***, hope he gets a good f****** shoeing in the cells."
A total of 187 complaints were made "against officers over their use of Facebook, with nine officers being given final written warnings, 47 given written warnings and one given a formal warning," the newspaper said. "A further 88 were subject to management action, received guidance or words of advice, while 32 complaints were either withdrawn, found to be unsubstantiated or led to no further action."
The government report, called "Without Fear Or Favor: A Review Of Police Relationships," also noted that it's not just the lower ranks of officers who need to be more careful on Facebook.
"Any lack of clarity felt by staff is not helped by the example set by some senior officers who include what might be considered questionable force-related content or personal opinion in their own messaging."
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