Thinking about using the social web to do democratic things…..

Social Police…..

I had a really interesting morning last week at the Policing Pledge conference which was aimed at best practice around the new policing pledge.  I ran two workshops and I wanted to share the slides here:

The groups where both very tolerant of both my crazed enthusiasm for the subject and also of my relative ignorance of the policing world, however as we got going it became clear that, not surprisingly, many of the concerns and issues are shared with Local Government.

You’ll see in the presentation a couple of excellent examples of best practice in this area.  You should definitely check out this video and have a look at http://twitter.com/hotelalpha9 from Podnosh

The big difference between the Police and Local Government is of course the democratic aspect – talking to these folks was far more ‘operational’ and while there is a real need an appetite for getting feedback from the community it is a very different prospect when this is not political (at least not to the same extent).

I also felt there was a different attitude to risk. We were all clear that there are real reputational risks that come with social web projects – however for most of the people in the room these were manageable and a necessary cost of ‘doing business’ in this way and for one contributor a lot more manageable than having to attend 600 community meeting a year! Perhaps this is a function of the fact that a PCSO is far more autonomous than many Council officers but I felt there was far more willingness to make these tools available to front-line staff than I see in many Councils. Now – this may be grossly unfair – and it certainly is if I think about the Virtual Town Hall pilot sites, and others, who are very bold in experimenting with social media – so I will need to think more about it – I reserve the write to edit myself once I have considered this more and met some more police folks….

I also want to point you at Mark Payne’s blog who is a Chief Inspector @ West Midlands Police Authority. This post really sums why the public sector need to get involved in this:

“Can anybody really look five years ahead and say that their force won’t need to be using social media? A whole generation of people – our communities – are growing up (or growing older) using social media as their primary communications tool. They are not going to stop. By failing to engage with them in this area, we are allowing people to become more and more remote from their officers.”

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