Police officers in South Yorkshire warned over use of social media

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Police officers and staff in South Yorkshire have been warned about their use of social media accounts - with 15 having been disciplined over the past four years.

A new policy has been issued detailing what is expected of police officers, PCSOs, specials and civilians using social media.

Between January 2009 and February 2014 action was taken against 15 South Yorkshire Police employees, including one police constable who made ‘inappropriate comments’ about a senior officer on Facebook regarding an investigation.

Three PCs were also disciplined for using Facebook to comment about the cost and management of a police operation.

One PC resigned over an allegation that they contacted a complainant via Facebook after using police systems to obtain their details.

A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “A new social media policy for engagement was introduced by the force to provide officers and staff with clear guidance on the standards of behaviour expected when using social media accounts personally and professionally.

“The policy reminds force employees using personal social media accounts that their employment contract stipulates that information gained in the course of their duties should not be disclosed outside the force.

“Police officers and staff using personal accounts need to take responsibility for the content posted. They are issued with guidance on recommended privacy and security settings for personal social and digital media accounts, as well as recommendations on the personal information that should not be detailed.

“This is guidance only and is provided for safety reasons. If any employee makes the decision to include this information they are advised of the subsequent risks.

“If the force becomes aware of any breaches of police staff conduct on social media accounts, individuals may be subject to misconduct procedures.”