Social Media - 146/14
Dated: 12 Mar 2014
Date of request: 10/02/2014
Date of response: 12/03/2014
Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')(FOIA)
Thank you for your email dated 10 February 2014 in which you made a request for access to certain information which may be held by Northumbria Police.
As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.
This is an FOI request to your police department that seeks to clarify how and why the police are using social media to connect and communicate with the public. Within this field I will focus on the money and allocation of resources devoted to social media channels.
My questions are as follows:
1. What is the intended purpose of employing or operating a social media channel via twitter or facebook etc? Do you have a mission statement?
2. Do you have a specific role within your department for social media communications? If so what is the name of that role? If not who is responsible for updating social media channels (e.g. facebook updates, twitter statements)
3. Does your authority pay social media companies or experts to handle your public communications? Please provide a list of companies/consultants you have used in the past and present.
4. How does the company/individual select stories to publish? Do you have a set of guidelines to follow (or the equivalent)?
5. What is the salary of these social media consultants? How many hours do they work per week?
6. Are employees operating the social media channels set targets to reach a certain number of followers or level of interaction with the public?
We have now had the opportunity to fully consider your request and I provide a response for your attention.
Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Corporate Communications Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held by Northumbria Police.
I have today decided to disclose the located information to you as follows.
1. Social media is an important channel which allows us to communicate effectively with people in our communities.
It gives us a real-time platform to circulate information as quickly as possible, which can be crucial when dealing with operational matters.
It also gives the public an accessible tool to contact us easily and directly with any issues, concerns or feedback they have.
Our social media is closely managed and access to our corporate accounts is restricted to ensure the information posted is accurate, up to date and relevant.
2. The E-Communications Team within Strategic Corporate Communications Department are responsible for the managing and updating the force's social media channels, along with a range of other duties and responsibilities.
Some additional staff within Strategic Corporate Communications Department and a small number of officers are also authorised to provide content via the force's existing social media channels.
3. No, we do not pay social media companies to handle public communications.
4. Not applicable.
5. Not applicable.
6. No targets are set to reach a certain number of followers or level of interaction with the public. Our aim is to continue to increase the number of people we engage with via social media - currently Northumbria Police have 63,155 followers across all its social media channels.
Due to the different methods of recording information across 43 forces, a specific response from one constabulary should not be seen as an indication of what information could be supplied (within cost) by another. Systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data. For this reason responses between forces may differ, and should not be used for comparative purposes.
The information we have supplied to you is likely to contain intellectual property rights of Northumbria Police. Your use of the information must be strictly in accordance with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended) or such other applicable legislation. In particular, you must not re-use this information for any commercial purpose.
How to complain
If you are unhappy with our decision or do not consider that we have handled your request properly and we are unable to resolve this issue informally, you are entitled to make a formal complaint to us under our complaints procedure which can be found at: http://www.northumbria.police.uk/foi/disclosurelog/foicomprights.asp
If you are still unhappy after we have investigated your complaint and reported to you the outcome, you may complain directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office and request that they investigate to ascertain whether we have dealt with your request in accordance with the Act.