Social Media and Blogging….

I see, once again, social media is under the spot light, with anonymous bloggers who are writing, like myself, under pseudonyms, often because we don’t feel that we would be allowed to put our own names for fear of discipline. My question is what is wrong with expressing your opinion about your job, or reporting issues relating to your work?

I started my blog about a year ago and my inspiration was Inspector Gadget who has recently hung up his boots. I decided that I would write about various issues relating to my career, some political, some funny, some giving food for thought, and some sad.

I have had 12,000 people read my work which is more than I could have ever perceived and I receive good feedback.
I didn’t start writing to cause controversy, I didn’t write articles to start causing anarchy, I did it because I believe that we have the right to have a voice and to be able to use or freedom of speech/expression.

My choice to write about issues that I feel strongly about and to highlight issues which are affecting the Public Services are my way of venting. I work hard and have aspirations to further my career, do I think I am doing anything wrong by doing this, simply No.

I don’t breach any data protection issues, I don’t mention names or locations of offenders unless it is already well publicised- but what I do do is to try and give food for thought.

I wonder if we worked in the private sector there would be such an issue surrounding authors to give up their blogs?
If I was told to stop publishing I would feel like my human rights are being affected- why should we be unable to express an opinion just because we work in the public sector?
I think as long as it isn’t racist, sexist or derogatory then I really don’t see an issue. It’s my way of venting and getting rid of frustration and anger on paper and not to the public.
What’s the harm in that? We are human beings, we do think, we are not robots and officer discretion is no longer available and it appears having an opinion is now being questioned.

My blogs are my own views and feelings and I enjoy writing them. I just hope that common sense prevails and they don’t come down on officers who are on the ground seeing the impact of changes being made. The government would do well to listen. If we have to do it anonymously then so be it.

So what do you think? Should we be allowed to continue to blog and what’s the problem with blogging when so many write they opinions on twitter/Facebook ?

Be interested to hear your views

IJB

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Comments
20 Responses to “Social Media and Blogging….”
  1. Couldn’t agree more ma’am …

    If only the SMT would get on the 21st century bus…

    But when you get officers psd’d for writing the word “offender” on a police website (against a pic of someone attacking someone else) i guess we need to stay incognito…

  2. Nick Keane says:

    Thanks for writing this JB, I think this is an important.

    I do not know why Inspector Gadget decided to stop blogging and if someone knows, please tell us.

    I think that the key part of your blog is the section that states “we are human beings, we do think, we are not robots” and amen to that!

    The sad truth is that, from time to time, anonymous tweeters and bloggers have been associated with bullying behaviour online and, I’m sorry to say, from time to time, this has included anonymous tweeters/bloggers who have identified themselves as either police officers or retired police officers.

    Some of the contacts I have had from people who feel they have been bullied from anonymous police (police related) bloggers and tweeters have been really distressing.

    When you use social media it’s easy to forget that there is real person hearing/reading what you are saying – and sometimes people forget that it’s not just the “idiot/fool/moron” you are responding to but their children, their partner and their family and their friends….

    So Juliet, to answer your question, should you continue blogging? I’d say yes, but I would refer you to the words of the prayer, you quoted, “grant me just thoughts and compassion, in each case every time.”

    This is in no way a reflection on you JB and, again, thank you for asking the question and requesting replies, but the reason why some people do not respond well to anonymous bloggers/tweeters is that that THEY (anonymous ones) do not grant just thoughts and compassion to those that disagree with them.

    Please carry on blogging and tweeting and, I’m with you, just thoughts and compassion to those that see it differently.

    I’m not anonymous, I’m Nick Keane. Thank you.

    • Shijuro says:

      I have an indirect contact with gadget and he is ok… Just needs a break…

    • Thank you – I do show thoughts and compassion with my thoughts and musings- I would not dream of replying with unkind words as everyone is entitled to have their own opinion and I encourage anyone to share…..

      I decided to be anonymous not because I am wanting to diss others but because of the pressure of social media and public services. I know a lot of officers who have been pulled up because of their blogging and I want to be able to continue with my thoughts and feelings about subjects I feel passionate about.

      I will be continuing to write my blogs- and I hope they will be appreciated to evoke thoughts of the pressures we are under and the job we do.

      Thanks
      IJB

  3. Ken Robbins says:

    I am relatively new to Twitter,during that time my opinion of the Police has changed big time.

    I really enjoyed Insp Gadgets tweets,they seemed to be a Police Safety Valve,and from what I have seen on twitter is needed and supported by many.

    Most of his comments honest and heartfelt somebody who really cares.This led me to buy both books both of which are a fantastic insight.
    Tweeting is a good way to connect with the public especially when someones personality comes across with humour.Understandably some tweets have to be measured when subject demands but should not stop you putting things over in Your way.
    I really admire the frontline cops as they have to put up with a lot of shit!

    Keep tweeting,be honest,be yourself.

    • Thank you- all I want to do is share my thoughts and show that underneath it all we are human and have feelings too. I do try and do it with all the best intentions and with no malice- I do hope you continue to enjoy reading them and spread the word 😉

  4. bananaman999 says:

    I started blogging in January so I could have a voice in a lot of these debates. Like you I think it’s a free speech issue. Personally I hate being anon, but over on my own account I have to hover over the ‘post’ button in case the discipline monsters are watching.
    I’ve tried to explain this in my own post last month :

    https://bananaman999.wordpress.com/2013/02/10/a-very-sober-tweet/

    Interestingly an ACPO officer came on twitter yesterday and expressed his acceptance of anon police tweeters- maybe we are getting through! If so a lot of credit goes to gadget. We need to keep going now …keep up the good work !

  5. Brian Hesketh says:

    I read the news item in The Guardian about Insp Gadget hanging up his boots. Of greatest interest, to me, was the debate, in the comments section below the article: (http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/mar/13/police-blogger-quits-pressure-unofficial?INTCMP=SRCH) which (with the exception of the occasional troll infection) probed the various arguments for and against.
    In retirement I may say what I wish, I don’t know what I would have done had social media existed in their current form when I was serving. I hope I would have had the courage to tweet/post as you and others have done. The office of Constable is key to our liberties, and a crucial part or living under the rule of law. When that office, or indeed any authority is abused, from within or without, shining a light of truth is essential, though it may prove costly, personally for those who light it.
    On a lighter note, the general public are fed a misleading diet, through police-related dramas as entertainment (and I suspect many politicians base their views of criminal justice more on fantasy than fact) so insider-posting provides some form of balance. (Did I say a lighter note!)

    • I agree and I will continue as others have before me- not to create animosity or create tension but to show that we do have feelings, opinions and are human and are finding our lives and those we serve forever changing!
      Thanks for your support 😉

  6. Dave Hasney says:

    I started blogging whilst still serving (see http://ashfordly-police.blogspot.co.uk) under a pen name, for the same reasons as most police bloggers. Now I’m retired I continue to blog but now under my own name. Those who are prepared to blog about the real issues of policing owe it not only to their colleagues but also, perhaps even more importantly, to the public they serve. Please continue with your blog!

  7. Jon says:

    I have no problem with people being investigated and disciplined if they post messages on social networking sites that are intended to bully or intimidate. Just because someone finds something offensive doesn’t automatically make it offensive to everyone. One thing with social networking sites is the freedom to choose who you follow or have as friends. If someone says something you don’t like then unfollow them or unfriend them and for good measure, block them.
    As for police officers using pseudonyms to post ‘their’ views of policing I see no problem with it at all. In fact the blogs from these officers should be viewed by people in power and given some thought. The officers that blog are not being militant nor are they trying to bring the police service into disrepute. They do so out of frustration because they care. They care about what they see money wasted on, they care about victims of crime, they care about what negative impact changes are making to the police service. They are usually the voice of the majority and the blogs provide a place where officers can go to share their frustrations and let off a little steam.

  8. Another police ex-blogger reporting in. I had my blog up during the course of the Winsor Review, but took the decision late last year to pull the whole thing.

    I changed role in 2012, and had to go through more enhance vetting. At that point I had to (and indeed did) declare my social media use. This held up my vetting for some time whilst someone read my witterings. I then received an email from the head of DPS, warning me about the content possibly being political, and that I was treading a fine line although I had not crossed it. My Detective Superintendent was informed, as was my new department head and I was spoken to by the DSupt. He hadn’t read it, and was only going on the email from DPS. He eventually read my blog and became a firm fan!

    I worry about what we can say in public. I worry that we don’t get enough guidance or support from our employers or the Federation on how to go about being anonymous police bloggers or Tweeters. I worry that DPS will come knocking at some point and that I’ll be hauled in for questioning. I worry that if I am tweeting in conversation with a journalist (whether I know they are or not) that this will be used as a means to claim I am breaching some law, Police Regulation or Code of Conduct.

    So thankyou to you, Insp JB, and all the other police bloggers out there. It reassures me that I am not too far off the mark, if others continue to blog and tweet.

    I was sad to see Insp Gadget go, and I’d love to hear back from him at some stage, so that we know he’s okay and not in trouble in any way.

    • Thank you for your support and the concerns expressed. I certainly feel that common sense prevails and I ensure that I am not going outside of the common sense guidelines.

      I hope that we will still have a voice and that it will be recognised by all.

      IJB

  9. Mad Mick says:

    Keep up the good work guv. As you stated, as long as you are not racist, sexist etc and don’t bring the job into disrepute where is the harm. There are enough at ACPO level and in Govt that do enough to bring the job into disrepute. I fully understand why you would wish to remain anonymous, there is always someone out there looking to get further up the ladder/get on over on you/etc if they can identify just one thing that may help them, however inoccuous. It is all well and good people saying that if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, but they probably are not in the job, or are far enough up it not to worry.

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