Social Media Helping Police

police and social mediaResearchers have found that police forces with strong social media presence have been found to have stronger relationships with the members of the public.

According to a report by BBC news the study looked at different European countries and the way that police in these countries were using social media to be able to better interact with citizens.

The researchers interviewed police IT specialists from a total of 13 European countries including the UK, Spain, Germany and Belgium as part of an overall study known as the Comparative Police Studies In The EU (Composite).

Dr Sebastian Denef, a project coordinator of Composite, told the BBC: “Police work in general and specific incidents are discussed in the social media anyway.  Therefore, the question is not whether the social media is appropriate for police topics, but how the police forces get involved and reap the benefits.  If the police is not active, others will fill the void.”

The study found that where there were no official police social media sites then others were set up to fill this void and were proving to be very popular.

The report states: “As our analysis of the UK riots in the summer of 2011 clearly indicates, during times of crisis police forces highly benefit from established connections and trained practices on social media.

“The voice of the police on social media receives a high level of trust that supersedes bogus information distributed online.”

Not only are the police listened to when using social media, they also have a much higher chance of interacting with younger members of the community according to the report which found that young people were more likely to find information via social media than they were through print media.

“Younger people…simply do not subscribe to local newspapers any longer and often get their news solely via social media.”

Social media also has been found to help the police communicate with people in a less “official” sounding way thanks to the informal set up of many of the social media networks which has helped the police once again to be able to reach people it may otherwise miss.

Social media is now considered by many modern European police forces as being an integral part of everyday policing.

A statement form the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said: “All forces are engaged in social networking to some degree because it opens up a two way conversation with the public.

“Social media is likely to continue to grow and, on balance, the advantages of social media use by the police outweigh the disadvantages.”

 

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