Belfast Telegraph

PSNI social networking

On Wednesday morning the PSNI in Bangor received a query on the on-line social networking site Facebook.

"Is it illegal to drive a car without shoes on? What about no shoes no socks? Thanks."

Tongue in cheek, PSNI Bangor replied: "Cars don't wear shoes and socks. Don't be silly".

Community policing is no longer just about having officers out on the ground.

Social networking is the modern face of grass roots policing and helps complement the work of neighbourhood police teams out on the streets.

By using online sites like Facebook and Twitter, officers are building relationships with the public on a scale, and at a pace, that they had been unable to do before.

While District Policing Partnerships continue to struggle to muster much interest from the man on the street, the public are turning to the PSNI's various social networking sites in the thousands.

More than 8,000 people are following PSNI Ards on Facebook.

PSNI Bangor is not far behind with 7,888 followers.

On Twitter the PSNI has more than 2,400 followers.

While there is plenty of light-hearted banter and interaction between the public and the officers on these sites there is also a much more serious side.

The sites are being used by the police to disseminate information to the public. With Twitter and Facebook there is immediacy with getting that information out there.

Information can be shared as quickly as the person making the post can hit send.

The sites are used to make the public aware of alerts, crimes, road closures or, simply, to give advice.

It can also help to solve crimes.

Last year, in a first for UK policing, officers recovered stolen property as a result of information posted on the Holywood PSNI site last year.

Talking about the PSNI's social network sites, Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie says that communication is one of the key priorities for any police service, adding that "it is important that we make full use of every available opportunity to engage with the public we serve."

So for anyone wanting to engage with officers in their area - or to find out if it is illegal to drive without shoes on - get Tweeting.

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From Belfast Telegraph