Police Communications and Social Media
Open Source Communications, Analytics Research Development Centre publish second in series of Working Papers
No. 2. Police Communications and Social Media
A report by Nigel Fielding (Professor of Sociology, University of Surrey) and Nick Caddick (Digital Media Manager, Sussex Police)
This working paper aims to conceptualise and evaluate the affordances of Web 2.0 social media tools in respect of the communication functions of the police and to document the role of social media (‘SM’) in police communications in forces in England and Wales.
In pursuit of the above-stated aim, exploratory research was conducted. The research design had several components. These were: (i) practice examples drawn from partners in the OSCAR project (ii) key informant interviews (iii) the research literature. Regarding (i), the practice examples concerned accounts of social media-based interventions and communications campaigns made known to the authors. Regarding (ii), key informant interviews took place in early 2017 with a small sample of officers and staff assigned to the communications function in five police forces. The interviews sought to identify (a) instances of good/poor practice as perceived by the respondent (one criterion of good practice would be a communications intervention with a positive operational outcome) (b) wider thoughts about the role of SM in the force’s communications strategy (c) appraisals of the obstacles that present themselves in making good the potential of SM (d) assessments of what it is not realistic to expect SM to do in respect of the communications brief. Regarding (iii), relevant literature included studies of human behaviour online, analyses of information flows, and evaluations of police