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Officers expected to show professionalism when using social media

23 Apr 2021

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has warned police officers and staff about inappropriate use of social media and the consequences they could face for posting or sharing offensive material. 

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Professional Standards and Ethics, Chief Constable Martin Jelley, said:

“Social media and messaging apps have brought huge benefits to policing and how we engage with our communities. We expect police officers and staff to show the same level of professionalism when using these methods of communication as they do in every other part of their job, and we know the vast majority of them do.

“Unfortunately, nationally, we have seen recent cases where inappropriate, racist, sexist or discriminatory material has been posted or shared. It is very concerning that a small number of officers think this is acceptable.

“Policing has clear standards of behaviour and a code of ethics, and we expect all officers to adhere to these when using social media and messaging apps. Where officers don’t meet the expected standards of behaviour they will be dealt with robustly, and this could result in them losing their jobs or in the most serious cases, criminal conviction.

“It is reassuring that many of the cases of misuse of social media and messaging apps come to light following reports by fellow officers and staff. This demonstrates the vast majority of officers and staff recognise inappropriate behaviour and are confident in reporting it.

“The misuse of social media and messaging apps is recognised as an issue and the NPCC is actively working with the IOPC to put further guidance and safeguards in place.”