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Statement about suspension of ‘Mental Health Cop’ Twitter account

Saturday 15 February 2014

West Midlands Police has a force social media policy which details how channels, such as Twitter, should be used by officers in both an official and personal capacity.

As a force, the Corporate Communications Department monitors all corporate use and should any inappropriate or operationally sensitive communication be identified, this will be taken up with the individual. In serious cases, the matter would be referred to the force’s Professional Standards Department.

Recent monitoring has led to the suspension of an account operated by a response inspector whose focus was on mental health policing. Certain aspects of the officer’s communication is currently being investigated for alleged misuse of a force account and as such it would be inappropriate for the account to continue whilst further enquiries are made.

Any breaches of force policy are taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly and professionally investigated.

ACC Garry Forsyth said: “Our policy is intended to enable officers and staff to communicate with our communities effectively to offer an insight into our work.

“It does impose some restrictions but we are, of course, an organisation that holds sensitive information so we have to ensure that there is some restraint. I also can’t imagine any organisation that would want its employees to be openly critical of it - or indeed allow it.

“The policy is not intended to discourage personal perspectives and I believe a human element assists with engagement."

West Midlands Police has been at the forefront of encouraging officers and staff to use social media to directly engage and communicate with the public for many years.

Twitter and blogs provide an opportunity for officers to communicate directly with the people we serve, giving them up-to-date information about policing in their area, and allowing the public to relate to the police.

From neighbourhood PCSOs and PCs right through to Deputy Chief Constables, our social media accounts have featured everything from daily activity of local neighbourhood teams and arrests being made by response officers, to the work of contact centres, police dogs, the force helicopter, and the lighter side of a police officer’s day.

Click here to view a copy of the force's Social and Digital Media Policy.