Sunday, 24 April 2011

Response to the Warwickshire Police Social Media Channels statement

Smithy's Twitter Profile
There seems to be a storm brewing and by choice I am  in the middle of it. I've been asked to respond to a statement made by Carl Baldacchino (see name spelling note at base) (on 31 March 2011 at the WPA website).

When I first read it, I had to read the date for a second time. It must be a year old - but this statement was written 24 days ago! 'We have chosen not to use Twitter on a regular basis...we have to prioritise communications to ensure it fits with our force priorities.'

When I attended the Police Authority meeting four days ago (Carl Baldacchino was also there), I listened as members spoke of the need for communication to be at the top of the list. The more I read the answer by Carl, the more I believe it is two years out of date. This comes at a time when Police are investing in People not Buildings - you do not need to be at a Police Authority meeting to know that. It's common knowledge across all areas of the County Council.

My suggestion is there are some Control and Trust issues at work here. The more you try to control people - the less you trust them. The solution is for someone, very quickly, is to announce an open season on Twitter. With only one rule - talk to the public on Twitter as you would normally talk to the public in the street. That's it (I wish I was the first to say that - but I'm not).

Whether this statement can come swiftly from the Chair of the Warwickshire Police Authority or from the Chief Constable it does not matter (to the public). What matters, is the public should feel their police force and visible, engaged and each officer is contactable by the fastest and most up to date method available.

It's like Warwickshire Police saying they will only use the letters in the post when the telephone has already been invented. If you think this is not true - try using twitter to get a hold of MPs on trains, the BBC at midnight and County Councillors at 3am. It all works and is lightening quick - I know as I've done it and it works. If anyone needs a demonstration, just ask.

Please accept this post as an open invitation for Carl Baldacchino to open a personal Twitter account and join in the conversation. For those of you who are reading this late, it's Easter Sunday, the shops are shut, few people are at work - but the rage of twitter activity carries on.

Even a West Midlands Police Dog called Smithy has a twitter account - and he has 1,996 followers. Come on Warwickshire - this is a great County.

The WPA Question and Answer reads:
Warwickshire Police Social Media Channels - Question asked on 31 March, 2011:
Why does your Police Force not appear to be represented using Social Media? The Warwickshire Police Authority is but the Police Force appears not to be.
Response(s) from the Police Authority:
Warwickshire Police does have a facebook page, through which we communicate information about our activities, including appeals and campaigns. We do also use viral marketing for specific campaigns. We have chosen not to use Twitter on a regular basis at the current time, but do employ it in relation to specific events or operations. We have to prioritise our communications activity to ensure that it does most to address our force priorities and contribute to protecting people from harm. We have shifted our operations significantly towards social media and away from 'traditional' marketing activity during the past twelve months.  
Carl Baldachinno Head of Corporate Communications - Warwickshire Police
Name Spelling Update (7.51am 25 April 2011): It seems there are spellings Carl Baldacchino and Carl Baldachinno from police web pages and the internet. I assume each spelling refers to the same person. Carl himself wrote his name as Baldacchino in my notebook, but I include both versions in this article to avoid wider confusion. 

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