The Topsham 1 and Student Mayhem

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Some interesting conversation on twitter last night and today about the so-called “ban” on @topshampolice twitter account.

The BBC have posted an article here which talks about the issues and the support around “free the topsham 1″ and the guardian indicate that this maybe a direction of travel for the Police – which would be a shame.

Depending on what you read, there isn’t a ban, it is a review with training and if other places there is a ban…just gotta love the social web for its accurate reporting :)

I’m a fan of @topshampolice, she is actually my local PCSO (or was as she also helped another local PCSO) join twitter for my specific local area so I always found her tweets informative and helpful.  I had occasional conversations with her about stuff she was reporting which made me feel connected and raised my awareness of her role within my community and the wider community.

The handling and reporting of this has been rather strange in my personal opinion. The Guardian article states this from Devon and Cornwall Police

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall police said: “Devon and Cornwall police embraces social media and all staff’s responsible use of it.

“The force’s main Twitter account has more than 11,500 followers and we value it greatly as a way of communicating with communities and the wider public.

“The PCSO concerned has been given words of advice around the content of tweets, but has not been banned or stopped from tweeting.

“The force has a social media policy which gives clear guidance to all staff on what is deemed appropriate, and in this case, training will now be given to the PCSO so she can better use social media in the future as an innovative communication tool.

“There is no doubt that social media is a very quick and effective means which can have pitfalls, but we are committed to ensuring staff have the knowledge and expertise wherever possible to use it properly.”

Ok, so let me think about this for a moment….the force embraces social media, it has a high number of followers, it has clear guidance on what is appropriate and training has been offered….hmmm no reference to the University and the student behaviour in freshers week – nope, just that a PCSO who does good work locally refers to what she sees and gets in trouble and clearly all the above policy, guidance and training isn’t working…or wasn’t put in place before this account was created…maybe an internal learning point there…

This is really an issue of acceptable behaviour.

This is I believe the actual tweet that triggered these events – I’m guessing of course but the rest are all fine in my personal opinion:

Perhaps if this was deemed inappropriate it could have been followed with a tweet like

“Not all students are bad of course, but we do need to do our jobs and keep people safe”

I’m actually more surprised in this situation by the reaction of the University or lack of …I think they should recognise this, accept it and work with local people to address it. The PCSO is in a perfect position to facilitate that conversation ironically.

And of course I wouldn’t suggest for a minute that all or any of this is in any way linked to this recent news…

Updated:

It is also interesting but I’m in no way implying anything by this of course – to see a similar natured tweet retweeted by the Exeter Students Union Welfare officer….hmmmm :)

5 thoughts on “The Topsham 1 and Student Mayhem

  1. Jack

    Thanks for clarifying this Carl. The BBC article omitted the :-) from the “student mayhem” comment which changed the tone entirely.

  2. My local Police (Hereford) have a couple of accounts but the most active one is @Southsidecops which I think is maintained by a mixture of regular Officers’ and CSO’s who contribute to the one account. The content is eclectic to say the least. A mixture of the bland factual ‘party’ line stuff and re-tweets of ‘Official’ accounts but added in are some barmy/corny #hashtag phrases and stuff which could be considered a bit cringeworthy. If you look at the account you might see what I mean. In fairness the locals seem to like it but I think it’s a bit of a waste of time!

  3. Keith Reed

    Carl, Whilst I support all the PCSO’s in their use of social media to communicate with the community I do feel she crossed a line in her public criticism of the students. Albeit I personally think what she said was probably right!

    What happens if she is called to give evidence against a student who has committed a crime. The defense barrister would say she had it in for students and her testimony was unreliable. I think the police need to be seen to be impartial. Glad to see she was back tweeting a few days later.

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