Thanks to public support, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has now passed the 100,000 follower milestone across the organisation’s 35 Facebook pages and 28 Twitter accounts.
Chief Superintendent Nigel Grimshaw explained: “In recognition of the emerging popularity of social media and its’ potential as an engagement tool, the Police Service of Northern Ireland established a pilot social media engagement project, initially comprising of two corporate blogging sites in May 2009 followed by a number of corporate Facebook and Twitter sites in October 2009.
“We now have 35 Facebook pages and 28 Twitter accounts, mainly connected to Neighbourhood Policing Teams across Northern Ireland, with over 100,000 followers.
“Our Facebook pages and Twitter feeds provide local members of the community with another channel to engage with officers and contribute to the policing debate.”
Chief Superintendent Grimshaw went on explaining: “The whole medium of social networking has presented us with a new way to engage with local residents and communities. It has also gives us the opportunity to give timely, relevant information to the community which will ultimately help them to stay safe and informed.
“In the weeks and months ahead we will continue to develop and broaden our online presence, as part of our commitment to communicate and engage with communities across Northern Ireland.
“This means more people will have the opportunity to get updates from and share their concerns with their local police officers and we can also monitor online opinion on policing issues.”
Chief Superintendent Grimshaw went on to reassure that: “Our social media activity is certainly not a one size fits all communications tool. We will still offer the public opportunities to engage and interact with Police; from local meetings and police surgeries, through to activity with the print and broadcast media, alongside all our work with partner agencies, the Policing Board and the Policing Community and Safety Partnerships.”
Local Police officers regularly update the content of the Facebook pages and twitter feeds while they are on-duty, and on the beat in communities. It only takes a few minutes to upload information which can then be accessed instantaneously by followers who can discuss any issues with their local police.
Police welcome comments that local people may want to post on the sites, however abusive or inappropriate comments will be removed. Police have highlighted that the Facebook sites are not be monitored 24/7, and are not a means of reporting a crime or criminal activity.
People with information relating to crime or criminal behaviour are still asked to report activity of this nature via telephone by either ringing the police non-emergency number 0845 600 8000, or by contacting the independent charity, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency, always dial 999.