Police officer quit over probe into Facebook use

Temporary Chief Constable Bob Dyson
Temporary Chief Constable Bob Dyson
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A SOUTH Yorkshire police officer resigned during a probe into his use of force computer systems and Facebook, it has emerged.

Police chiefs released the information under the Freedom of Information Act, admitting that as part of an investigation into allegations that the officer misused police computer systems, his personal Facebook account was looked at.

He is one of seven police officers to have quit their posts nationally over the last four years over the misuse of social media sites.

Another two were sacked elsewhere in the country and 150 others faced disciplinary action over the same period.

Officers were found using Facebook, which has 30 million users in the UK, to harass former partners and ex-colleagues, to comment on others’ wives and to suggest they had beaten up members of the public during protests, the Freedom of Information disclosures revealed.

Some revealed details of police operations, tried to befriend victims of crime, or were caught in inappropriate photographs, forces said.

The figures, from 41 of the 43 forces in England and Wales, cover the period 2008 to 2010.

Temporary Chief Constable Bob Dyson, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “Social media has become an important tool that the force uses on a daily basis to communicate with the public on a variety of subjects and it is used to assist policing operations to issue urgent messages externally.

“An officer resigned from the force while under investigation for an allegation of misusing force computer systems. His use of his own personal Facebook account did feature as part of that enquiry.

“South Yorkshire Police does control the use of social media within the workplace.

“Social networking sites cannot be accessed from force computers unless a member of staff has a business reason to access them as part of their duties.

“We have clear policies that advise staff on their private use of social media and provide training on the use of social media for professional purposes. Sadly, we do have infrequent instances of individuals failing to abide by these policies and appropriate action has to be taken.”

Roger Baker, who led a review into police corruption for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, said: “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.”