Met Police have no team to monitor officers’ online behaviour | UK | News

It comes as one Met Police officer is accused of historically sending inappropriate tweets to girls under the age of 18. The Met confirmed to it did not have a dedicated team for monitoring officers’ online posts, and explained that it is only alerted to potentially “inappropriate” posts when colleagues or members of the public spot and report them.

This is despite Ian Hopkins, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, saying in 2014 that police forces must exercise “proper control” over what officers publish on their social media accounts.

According to a report by the Police Federation that same year, “at least 10 forces are known to use monitoring software to scrutinise their officers’ use of Twitter”.

A Met Police spokesperson explained the internal process for handling complaints against officers’ social media posts, saying: “Action taken with regards to an inappropriate post depends on the severity of it – if someone posted something that was misjudged but with the best of intentions it might just be that their line manager is informed, the post deleted and an apology issued.

“If the post were more serious there may potentially be [Directorate of Professional Standards] involvement to consider whether it constitutes a misconduct investigation.”

READ MORE: Met Police plan to protect women ‘sticking plaster’

The admission of a lack of oversight comes as historic tweets of one Met officer resurfaced in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder.

In June 2014, the officer in question responded to a 17-year-old’s “innocent” tweet about her pet rabbit with: “Your rampant rabbit”.

The officer responded to the girl several other times in this period.

In January 2014, when the girl tweeted about being tickled, the officer replied: “Did you wet yourself?”

On one occasion in late 2013, when the girl tweeted: “Really can’t deal with people who care about the amount of kisses on a text”, he replied: “How many do you give then?”

Jess said it was “concerning” to discover the officer works for the Met, and suggested that him suspending his Twitter account meant “he knows it isn’t appropriate”.

Asked if the experience had changed her perception of police officers, Jess said: “The recent news around police officers changed my perception, this for sure just adds to it.

“These are the people we’re supposed to call if we need help, not fear!”

Also in 2014, the officer replied to a (since deleted) tweet by another girl who, according to social media posts, would have been 14 at the time: “What are you up to in London today? Can I come?? X”

The officer would have been aware of her age, as he also wished her a happy birthday on her 14th birthday.

The officer could not be reached for comment.

The Met was asked if it was concerned about officers bringing it into disrepute, or making women uncomfortable online, but they did not answer.

They said they could not comment on the above tweets if no formal complaint had been submitted.

The official Met Police Twitter account was tagged by a member of the public in tweets highlighting the posts by the officer.

The Met Police has an internal social media policy for officers, which prohibits anything which could bring the service “into disrepute, damaging the reputation of the [Met] and/or undermining public confidence.”

The spokesperson said: “Our collective efforts on social media platforms should seek to build confidence in the MPS and should therefore not undermine the MPS in the content posted, whether in a personal or professional capacity.”

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in 2012 identified 357 instances of potentially inappropriate behaviour by police officers on social media over a nine-month period, of which 132 constituted offensive language or behaviour.

The report found that at the same time only nine police forces had the capacity to check for inappropriate behaviour on personal accounts and that nine forces did not monitor staff use of social media at all.

The 2014 Police Foundation stressed: “Content placed on social media by police officers and staff must be appropriate for public consumption and use the right tone and style.

“Where this is not the case, processes must be in place to address this.”

In the wake of the sentencing of police officer Wayne Couzens for the rape and murder of Ms Everard, the Sunday Times reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel believed there was a culture of “defensiveness” in the Met.

A source close to the Home Secretary told the paper: “Policing is very defensive, but the Met are absolutely the worst.”

She is also reported to have described Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick as “tin-eared”.

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