I have an apology to make.

Posted: July 29, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It has just been drawn to my attention that the Pigpen is not allowed to express ANY views that may be considered political in any sense. Apparently I am in breach of statute and several disciplinary codes if I so do. I quote in full from the superintendents association article;

‘As a regular user of Twitter and a former Head of Professional Standards, I have become increasingly concerned with comments from a number of serving police officers, whether anonymous or clearly identifiable, expressing through tweets or blogs what could be perceived as either ‘political’ views or comments that ‘cross the line’ in terms of the what is expected of a police officer.

We live in a democratic society of which free speech is at the heart, however police officers are fully aware of the fact that they have certain restrictions on their private lives, indeed this is one of the things that makes us unique in terms of our professional role. These restrictions are laid out in Schedule 1 of Police Regulations 2003 but I wonder how many officers have ever really looked at them or thought about what they really mean. Here is an excerpt:

“A member of a police force shall at all times abstain from any activity which is likely to interfere with the impartial discharge of his duties or which is likely to give rise to the impression amongst members of the public that it may so interfere; and in particular a member of a police force shall not take any active part in politics.”

For the most part, this is not usually a major issue for officers, however because ‘politics’ here is not restricted to party politics but means politics in its widest sense, some officers could be at risk. The increased use of social media combined with the current debate around police cuts, policing reform and in particular Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) is presenting opportunities for officers to offer their views in a very public forum.  On some occasions, those views include ‘political’ views or views about current Government policies, which could potentially be in breach of Schedule 1.  This situation is likely to get more difficult for officers as the interest in the elections for local PCCs increases over coming months. I think it’s timely, therefore, for officers to be reminded of Police Regulations and to bear them in mind when commenting on political policies or the views of PCCs.  

In addition to the above scenario is the fact that two of the Standards of Professional Behaviour for police officers as outlined in the Police (Conduct) Regulations 2008 set positive standards of expectation in terms of conduct when dealing with others, and both of these can relate directly to the use of social media:

  • Police officers act with self control and tolerance, treating members of the public and colleagues with respect and courtesy
  • Police officers act with fairness and impartiality

It is inevitable that many police officers feel frustrated and angry about the changes that are happening to the service and their own pay and conditions at the present time, but does this ever justify breaching these standards? I don’t believe that it does. One of the statements that police officers are often heard saying is that they are professionals. On 99% of occasions I believe they are, however some of the conduct I see via social media sites does not give that impression, and if that’s how I feel, then what impression is it giving the public?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a great fan of the use of social media in policing, providing it is used professionally, and I don’t want to stop police officers from expressing their views and feelings. This blog isn’t about threatening officers with the full force of regulations, it is simply about reminding officers to do the right thing. Have your say, but please don’t let yourself or the service down by doing so in an unprofessional manner. Be professional, play within the rules and you will play safe. ‘

So, it seems that a literal reading of this piece of state sponsored propaganda means that I cannot comment on anything to do with Government, Politics, decisions made affecting me directly and the greater British public indirectly. I cannot respond to comments made to others on those topics. Indeed it seems that the only safe subject for me to write about in future is the state of the weather once that topic has been vetted by the powers that be.

I have just realised that this post is in breach of the regulations, … I canm hear footsteps drawing nearer and n

  1. 1984? A few years late in arriving but ….

    Hell, you are just a drone without entitlement to an opinion. But you knew that anyway.

    • Indeed, they liked the fact I had a degree when I joined and had come from an intellectual ‘profession’ but now I am a number they don’t like indepenmdent thought. Of course being a more mature officer they have to expect me to be a bit set in my ways and a propensity to say what I think!!

  2. Psst, don’t forget to rid of your photo and your name and then the pen will be safe. Maybe.

    • As I am using their computer at the moment it shouldn’t be too hard for them to find me. Perhaps my dead dog can have a blog and she can say the things I am not allowed to. Of course I will have to get someone to type what I am thinking because the regulations don’t seem to cover thought at present.

  3. I look forward to reading more blogs about your garden!

  4. Vicky says:

    I think the split personality is the way to go, your underground persona could be foxden 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s