Today I took a trip to West Midlands Police Headquarters at Lloyd House to attend a meeting all about how the force uses social media. We thought that as we’ve been involved in the area for quite some time now and are leading the country in reaching out to people via the internet, it was about time we sat down and had a talk about where we’re going with the idea and how we can improve for the future.
At the meeting was many of the current ‘superstars’ of the force’s social media program including many officers who I have regularly been in contact with via Twitter but never have actually met in person. The room was awash with pip and crown adorned shoulders showing how importantly social media is viewed by the force.
I was sitting next to Supt. Payne who may know through Twitter as being one of those in charge of policing in Wolverhampton. To name a few others present, we also had in the packed meeting room Supt. Fraser, Chief Insp. Blakeman, Insp. Guilfoyle, Insp. Portman, Insp. Orencas and to top it all off, ACC Rowe.
So well attended was the meeting that I had to fight a Chief Inspector for the last seat!
We spent time speaking about examples of good practice from using social media to engage with the public and it was very interesting to hear how different areas have been able to achieve great results from using new technologies to help break down barriers between the police and public.
Chief Insp. Blakeman spoke about how he’d used Twitcam in Coventry to publicise the work of his officers and there was feedback from around the table from people who had received positive and encouraging messages from the public who are evidently keen that we both continue and expand our use of social media.
Some of the meeting was spent talking about how best to encourage new officers to take up tweeting or publishing blogs and also how to manage this to ensure that we’re offering a relevant service to the public. Being a relatively new innovation, working out how best to integrate social media into our role of policing has required us to really think about what the public would want from an online presence. Being a two way exchange, it’s not been hard to canvas opinion on this from the public themselves. We then have to look at how we can meet expectations accordingly.
As I’ve said in a previous post, social media is now very much at the core of policing and hearing today the positive examples of its use from across the West Midlands have only reinforced this view. We’ve many officers already involved with it and will have many more joining over the coming months and years. It is something that’s new, especially to policing, and as such comes with a steep learning curve.
I think it’s fair to say our force is pioneering the use of social media and that input from the public is going to be essential in shaping how our use of social media will develop in the future. We value your feedback, are keen to hear where you’d like to see us take social media and due to the nature of social media itself, are now more accessible than ever to receive your thoughts and act accordingly.
P.S. We’ve been using the hashtags #socialmediawmp and #wmpsocial to reference our social media activities through Twitter, they can also be used to provide feedback to us on what we’re doing and how you think we could improve.