I have been thinking a lot over the last few days about those of us who tweet or blog from behind a cloak of anonymity. I completely and utterly understand why a serving officer would want to disguise their true identity, but I have to say that I’m a tad confused by the Regulations and what they actually mean in today’s modern world.
@J_amesP has written an excellent piece on the subject at http://thepolicedebatingdirective.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/the-politics-of-impossible.html . Police Officers are subject to the Police Regulations, of course they are, but they can also benefit from the Human Rights Laws as well. Now I fully accept that I’m a long time retired from Her Majesty’s Police Farce, but when I was serving we were left in no doubt whatsoever that 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 meant that you should not take an ACTIVE part in politics like joining a party, canvassing etc etc. Nobody I know ever got into trouble for discussing politics in the canteen, or even in the back of the Station Van whilst out on patrol.
In this modern, hi-tec world in which we live, is it so very different to Tweet our thoughts to the world? From an official Police Twitter account, I would argue that it is absolutely NOT right. However from an officer’s personal account I don’t really see how that breaches the regulations, particularly if the account contains the usual disclaimer that “these views are mine and not necessarily shared by my employer” as most invariably do. I have even heard anecdotal evidence of officers being asked to supply the passwords of their personal accounts so that they can be checked. If this is true then it is outrageous. Many things have changed in The Job that I don’t necessarily agree with, like calling your Sergeant John, particularly if her name’s Alice, but that’s just me. The management also have to accept that the world as a whole has changed and people, including Police Officers, have more rights than they used to have.
Some of us have addressed this issue by Tweeting from behind a Cloak of Anonymity. Personally I find this a little sad, but I do understand and accept the issues of scrutiny from PSD and also abuse from fellow Tweetmates. I too have an anonymous account, some of you know what it is, most don’t. However, I don’t really care any more. I am on the verge of ‘retiring’ my anonymous account. I wonder if @SirIanBlair will do the same. There’s a challenge, I will if you will. It is unfortunate that any one of us to suffer personal abuse on Twitter because we have merely shared our thoughts with others’
Feel free to voice your views in ‘Comments’, anonymously or otherwise, I don’t care either way. One final thought, however, as this is clearly bothering so many of us, maybe the Federation could spend some of their pennies on obtaining some 1str Class Legal Advice from an expert in the field and putting this subject to bed once and for all.
Well, that’s me about done, I don’t propose to go over too much ground that others have already discussed, but you may like to anonymously answer the1 question below. It might be interesting to see the results.