Officers warned about the risks of crossing the line on social media sites.
Bobbies on the Tweet have been warned to “think before they type” on social media sites this summer by senior police officers.
Both the Superintendentsâ€™ Association and the Police Federation of England and Wales have this week urged front-line officers to be wary of the dangers of “crossing the line” when it comes to their public postings.
Ch Supt Irene Curtis, President Elect of the Superintendentsâ€™ Association, said she was becoming “increasingly concerned with comments from a number of serving police officers” on blogs and social media.
Ch Supt Curtis, a former head of professional standards with Lancashire Constabulary, said she had been reading comments which “could be perceived as either ‘political’ views or comments that ‘cross the line’ in terms of the what is expected of a police officer”.
She added: “We live in a democratic society of which free speech is at the heart. However police officers are fully aware of the fact that they have certain restrictions on their private lives – indeed this is one of the things that makes us unique in terms of our professional role.
“The increased use of social media combined with the current debate around police cuts, policing reform and in particular Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) is presenting opportunities for officers to offer their views in a very public forum.
“On some occasions, those views include ‘political’ views or views about current government policies, which could potentially be in breach of Schedule 1 of the Police Regulations 2003.”
Schedule 1 states: “A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics.”
The Police (Conduct) Regulations of 2008 also remind officers to â€˜act with self control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesyâ€™ and to â€˜act with fairness and impartialityâ€™.
Ch Supt Curtis added:”It is inevitable that many police officers feel frustrated and angry about the changes that are happening to the service and their own pay and conditions at the present time, but does this ever justify breaching these standards?”
Ch Supt Curtis advised officers to “be professional, play within the rules and you will play safe.”
Meanwhile John Coppen, Police Federation of England and Wales Lead on the Olympics, advised officers policing the Games to be extremely careful around what they post on social media.
He said: “Our bosses have some say about what you do when you are on duty and they are saying donâ€™t use social media.
“There are security issues around the postings officers will be taking. And we donâ€™t want that compromised by a careless Tweet or an inappropriate posting on Facebook.
Olympics: Officers Told To ‘Think Before They Type’