Tag Archives: Policing Social Citizens

Policing digital streets

25 Jun

This week as I looked forward to the start of the Policing Social Citizens conference in Manchester tomorrow (26th and 27th June) the BBC reported that nearly 1/2 of the crime that frontline cops are dealing with is online including abuse, threats and ASB. You can see the full story here at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-27949674

As we have blurred social networks online and offline, feeling safe in both spaces feels important to us. Those of us with a reasonable experience of using social networks will appreciate when something is a genuine threat such as the Caroline Criado Perez incidents but can pretty much manage general anti- social behaviour using the the tools provided by the social networks themselves such as blocking or muting and reporting. The same as in physical streets, we use our experience to decide on keeping ourselves and others safe.

Quick list of the obvious stuff this throws up-

1 Visibility – many services are increasing a regular presence on our social media virtual streets and are increasingly adept at using social networks to work with blurred on and offline networks

2 Clarity on what constitutes online ASB – this term is difficult enough to agree on with offline communities…online, it becomes a nightmare. People are allowed to be cross online and unpleasant online.

3 Understanding the online community – the various digital spaces/ networks within their “patch” and their ability to feed them with the resources they need to prevent issues/ and self service in terms of online safety and perception. Without replicating the lonely officer sitting in a church hall engagement motif!

In Brighton several charities including a domestic abuse charity, a money advice charity and an LGBT mental health charity are delivering services digitally …so this presents an opportunity – but how connected and supported are they in the digital neighbourhood beat? (Note – they probably are as Sussex police do tend to engage well) but how many people can they reach etc… How effectively does the civic network function?

Anyway, this is super rough and ready…you tell me where it’s wrong or point me at better posts!

Policing Under Pressure

25 Jun

Watching policing under pressure was so interesting I took a lot away from the BBC programme aired this week and I spotted a lot of twitter chatter on the programme. Cautious remarks from serving officers and leaders and anger from the public.

Typically, a lot of the anger on my fairly left leaning twitter stream was to blame the government for cuts for the situation that the cops and communities in the programme found themselves in. I, certainly, think to a degree that is fair. There does come a tipping point when service funding which is at least 80% staff is cut where the service just cannot reorganise to do the same for less and faces the choice between doing different or less or combining those options which I suspect is where many are at. Certainly my experience in the voluntary sector and working with councillors from all parties looking at local government budgets is the mixed approach. None of these options come without pain for staff and communities in implementation. The best outcome is that beyond the pain comes some good results as different approaches achieve better outcomes.

I was left with various conversations that I would be interested in hearing the delegates at Policing Social Citizens discuss either physically or virtually-

1. Under what circumstances do targets become useful? I know people complain about perverse outcomes but surely there are examples of targets being used effectively
2. Do we need to move away from the language of ASB? It seems to hinder rather than help clear conversation between communities and police
3. Do the police have the skills to utilise the community assets within areas of tension and if not, would these be more effective than powers on AsB and curfews?

iSulk or iUnderstand – how leaders respond to social media

9 Jan

I am a huge advocate for leaders networking with their employees, boards, citizens and their peers via social media channels. I am such a keen user, I have become the example of extreme user my colleagues use! (This is with fondness, I am sure). I first started using social media when I was a Member of Sussex Police Authority and had a lead member role for diversity and for Public Order. I was enthusiastic to hear first hand accounts of people’s experiences of policing in their own words, when they wanted to talk about it and without setting the agenda. This informal conversation was hugely useful to triangulate between official surveys, formal meetings with community leaders and official performance data. After all, it’s a well worn phrase but worth repeating: “We may hit the target but miss the point.” I was very pleased to see Sussex Officers grasp the opportunities of social media early on and engage with communities and criticism as well as praise.

So, when I saw the #TimeOnOurHands discussion following this verbal statement from Tom Winsor, I was really concerned:

Winsor quote - Time On Their Hands from Evening Standard 8 Jan 2014

You can see the original piece this is captured from on the Evening Standard 8.1.14 here. Immediately, there was a twitter fury from officers, some politicians, and ACPO at this statement which they felt undermined their efforts to engage and inform and relegated their efforts to time-wasting. Later Tom Winsor sent a statement to ACPO digital engagement lead, DCC Ian Hopkins clarifying this statement which is at apparent odds with HMIC policy:

Tom Winsor clarification

What Tom was referring to was the context online which existed when he was first appointed when there were many anonymous, federation and retired officers criticising his appointment, changes to police terms and conditions recommended in his report and other big changes to leadership and governance such as the new Police and Crime Commissioners. This context has changed but it appears to have remained current in Mr Winsor’s mind. In this, he is not unique.

I have spoken to many politicians who have used social media during campaigns only to abandon it afterwards. Having been in this position myself, I really understand why. Social media can be an unfriendly place when the context is people campaigning against you. I was really taken aback by the change in tone of interactions I had from people I had regular interactions before. I experienced the hideous unfairness of lies and character assassinations. I posted on how to deal with this atmosphere just after that campaign here – Sticks and Stones

However, once the campaign was over, so was that type of interaction. People who had been ‘shouting at me’ with rhetorical questions went back to interacting on a more conversational basis largely. Context shifts. If you are campaigning or bringing in a radical change this context will affect digital interactions and noise. When that change or campaign is done, the conversation moves on. It doesn’t make the people who participated in it, bad or people to avoid. That noise, triangulated with other evidence, in my case from the doorstep, the papers, activists etc has a useful place even if difficult to bear. A modern leader does have to understand that their context shifts online, as it does offline. Context affects tone. And, as Solihull Police Commander, Sally Bourner always says “feedback is a gift”.