Whoop whoop it’s the sound of the PCCs online ..

5 Feb

I am really excited about how many Police and Crime Commissioners are seizing the day and using the internet to connect with their citizens. They all have huge patches in comparison to MPs and it seems that necessity is indeed the mother of invention when it comes to using all available engagement tools. For most, using social media is business as usual which is interesting and established democratic roles such as local government and MPs may well learn a lot from the approach of these PCCs.

It is still early days but many are laying solid foundations for developing a genuinely meaningful conversation which will have time to mature before the next election. I mentally send them to the top of the class.

Some examples of interesting use of digital tools to increase communication and build engagement online this week (if I have missed any, please use comments to add them):

Staffordshire PCC used CoverItLive to hold a live webchat

Sussex PCC used Facebook to hold a live event online

Avon & Somerset PCC is using the hashtag #ourplan to request feedback via twitter see @AandSPCC

All these examples demonstrate a balance of online/offline activity where the online ‘amplifies’ the impact of the physical meetings and discussions. CoverItLive has the benefit that it isn’t channel specific, it allows free access for people to get involved whatever their preferred social tool (twitter or facebook for example)..Facebook gives a sense of ‘membership’ so that helps to know who is committed to hearing from you on a regular basis. Using a hashtag on twitter is incredibly flexible and people can engage in the conversation without having to be a ‘supporter’ of the post holder.

I think CoverItLive probably has the win as you can respond in more than 140 characters, it’s intended for a chat set at a specific time, where Facebook is more of a ‘broadcast’ posts at your leisure medium. And, twitter can work well alongside CoverItLive.

I notice that twitter comes into its own as part of a physical meeting or event that is happening, but it helps to encourage participants to tweet through an announcement of #hashtag and even better (but not always possible) setting up a screen so that tweets are visible to all attendees during the event. This encourages participation from event attendees and makes the description online more owned by the participants rather than the host.

Many are using digital tools to increase transparency and bring to life the values of being open and accountable participating in webcast Police and Crime Panel meetings for example…

Here is Devon & Cornwall’s PCC presenting on his policing plan to the panel (if you click on the slides tab you can watch him speak to the slides he is presenting) and also there are meetings of the Northamptonshire PCP and the Surrey PCP online bringing to life the scrutiny work they are doing. In another step towards greater transparency the Surrey PCC also webcasts his monthly management meetings with the Chief Constable. In this meeting along with other issues, they discuss the estates strategy, as PCC Kevin Hurley has paused the sale of nine assets.

It isn’t hard to use digital to increase both transparency and engagement and it is good to see so many seizing the opportunity. Definitely a big WHOOP WHOOP from me.




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