Suffolk: Police officer faced inquiry over ‘tweet’ about ex-chief constable

Five enquiries over police use of social media

Five enquiries over police use of social media - Credit: PA

A Suffolk police sergeant was the subject of a disciplinary investigation after ‘tweeting’ a rude message about former chief constable Simon Ash’s retirement.

According to Suffolk Constabulary the unnamed officer was one of five over the past two years to have allegations recorded against them relating to the misuse of social media.

The sergeant was subject to informal management action as a result of an internal inquiry.

A summary of the case states that he “posted a discourteous messaged on Twitter regarding the retirement of a senior officer”.

Although the senior officer’s name is not mentioned in a reply to a Freedom of Information request it is understood to have been Mr Ash, who retired in February this year after nearly six years at the helm.

He had guided Suffolk Constabulary during a time of turmoil when it was besieged by financial cuts that meant savings of around £18million had to be found over four years.

Mr Ash had to make several difficult decisions which did not always go down well with officers or civilian staff.

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These included a temporary freeze on recruitment and promotions, as well as progressing the collaboration of services with Norfolk Constabulary.

However, possibly the most contentious decision was the implementation of A19, a deeply unpopular regulation allowing compulsory retirement of officers after 30 years’ service.

Of the four other officers involved in misuse of social media, another was former sergeant Pani Monk who was dismissed from the force after being convicted of harassment of his ex-partner who was also a police officer.

It was said during 2012/13 he accessed her private Facebook account.

Two constables resigned following the professional standards and complaints department being involved. One posted derogatory comments on Facebook in relation to a colleague’s photograph. The other posted inappropriate comments about a neighbour on Facebook.

The fifth officer, a constable, was involved in a misconduct meeting and was given management advice after posting a Facebook notice which was offensive to a colleague.

Supt Neil Luckett Head of the Joint Norfolk and Suffolk Professional Standards Department said:: “Suffolk Constabulary has a digital and social media policy in place which staff and officers are made aware of and is available for all to see on the constabulary intranet.

“Within the policy when using private social media sites, staff and officers are advised not to make any comment or post any images of behaviour which are, or could reasonably be perceived to be, beliefs or conduct that are contrary to the expectations of behaviour outlined in the standards of professional behaviour.

“The policy also outlines that officers and staff are advised not to make adverse comment regarding their police force, colleagues or senior managers or the police service in general on the internet or social media and are advised to make use of internal facilities to vent any such comments.”