Tag Archives: social media

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!

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”.

Let me put you in the picture…

10 Dec

This is a very brief post reflecting on the images that myself and some of the Councillors I follow share via twitter. I was curious to see what the images we share say about us and our communities.

Here are my campaign photos taken and shared during the by-election:

HEG Campaign photos

Here are some recent photos which demonstrate my blurred identity – at a women’s football match, catching up on campaign news with a colleague in my kitchen, meeting a Special Constable …generally being a mum and in the spirit of the internet being a bit random:

Emma blurred identity

Here are some sets from other Councillors:

This is Councillor Ken from Solihull’s recent photos:

Cllr Ken Photos

I love that Ken shares pictures of his dog and his use of the local area. I think many people would enjoy these photos and it would help his desire to engage with people on subjects they care about.

Here are Councillor Ian Sherwood’s images from Conservative conference…which includes a photo of me and Cllr Alison Hernandez when we had a conversation about Networked Councillor with Ian and others:

Cllr Ian Sherwood

I think they give a good impression of what being at party conference is like and show that Ian is connecting and influencing as well as being influenced.

What do you think the images we share say about what we think, how approachable we are and how well we are representing our parties and electorate?

Solihull – The future council is a social council?

4 Dec

I have been working with officers and community activists in Solihull on projects to implement their vision of a future council which is called The Social Council. It is so interesting to see a Council tackling the uncertainty and complexity of developing a vision and taking practical steps to test it.

The key assumptions that the leadership are making are these:

  • The funding situation is not likely improve so they will be working with less resources (see the Barnet Graph of Doom article in the Guardian)
  • That there is a technological revolution that can be harnessed to transform service delivery
  • And, fundamentally that Web 2.0 or social, interactive media has shifted the public’s expectation of involvement in their services and the decisions made by Councils.

The Social Council is an umbrella term which mostly focuses on the final assumption and these are the objectives as I understand them:

  • To share leadership across the organisation and with the community – to achieve a new normal that they work in a networked rather than hierarchical manner most of the time
  • To actively enable people internally and externally to make best use of social technology to achieve organisational and civic objectives
  • To be ready in both service delivery and democratic arms of the Council to meet the expectations of the public that they can report issues to us, find out about services and engage with all aspects of the organisation via social, mobile technology

Which is cool. And, I am really enjoying supporting this change programme with some project work …not least because the community activists get it, and want it to work very much.
Stop press – just as I finished I saw this tweet which was timely, as this describes the challenges organisations find with these types of change programmes!

Barriers to digital change tweet

Both tweeters well worth a follow btw and the #digileaders tweets worth a look (4/12/13)

Hacking local democracy

28 Apr

So how about we hack local democracy? What am I talking about?

Hacking is associated with coding, but as I learned at bluelight camp..essentially it means taking a thing and modifying it to make it work better. I know that lots of policy people, active citizens, politicians, public authority officers and others have really good ideas about how we could create projects which modify local democracy to increase participation.

Why does local democracy need a reboot?

(This is my list…please add more)

  • People feel that they only connect with politicians around election time, yet I am sure that the vast majority of Councillors work very hard all the time. A similar problem is felt in policing where people feel there is a lack of ‘bobbies on the beat’. Of course the chances of randomly bumping into your Pcso when you walk along the road is remote. Social media has to an extent helped the police address the need for a direct relationship with people and to show that officers are present in an area. Could Councillors learn from this? See @curiousc Networked Councillor Blog
  • The language and structure of local democratic meetings has become unintelligible to modern communities – requiring enormous interpretation and support to navigate. I refer to this is in my citizens agenda blog and so many local councillors ( from all over the country) related to this point making me positive that councillors are ready to lead change.
  • Democratic moments (HT to @demsoc) are too spaced out and mostly negative. In essence between elections there are too few opportunities for citizens to participate in decision making. Plus, in all other aspects of our lives we expect swift reaction and interaction/ feedback/ outcome. In local democracy, you can complain and object but to work positively requires massive effort and going to local partnership meetings etc. structures around positive engagement tend to be designed for the council structures and are over anxious about risk, stifle debate (conflicting points of view are generally perceived to be ‘a problem to be avoided’)
  • National scandal has tainted local politics (expenses/ links to corporate vested interests) as well as a perception that politicians are a class apart, groomed from birth via various routes depending on the tribe and not ‘of the people’. Yet again, to a certain extent some of these issues are shared by policing, and the idea that policing happens by the people for the people has been widely underlined by online policing communities. Trust and respect are vital for both police and politics to create a sense of legitimacy for decisions and actions taken. Digital can provide a transparency, it can give people the opportunity to directly question and scrutinise, as well as community reporters and bloggers to provide local and hyper local citizen journalism. Citizen journalism is I believe an asset to democracy, but it is often perceived as an annoyance. John popham and I were discussing this today. Hopefully a session could run on this at hacking local democracy.

There are lots of non tech ideas I would expect to arise which meet the challenge of increasing trust, confidence and participation in local democracy…list yours in the comments or tweet me!

But my list of techy solutions that could support some of the behaviour change that local democracy requires:

  • Doorstep app- let people see routes and allow for pop up events. Use text/emails to alert people so they can ask you to call in (or not)
  • Pop up community surgeries to respond to hyper local issues swiftly
  • Citizens agenda – see my previous blog
  • Develop e-petitions to enable community discussion