Belfast Telegraph

PSNI officers and staff face probe over 'racist' tweets

By Staff Reporter

A number of PSNI officers and support staff are currently being investigated over allegations surrounding messages posted on Twitter, it has been reported.

Among the allegations made is that racist, sexist and sectarian messages were posted on Twitter and potentially prejudiced criminal inquiries.

The PSNI has confirmed that an inquiry is under way in relation to the tweets.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, who is in charge of the force's professional standards department, told the Guardian newspaper: "I can confirm that the PSNI is examining material posted on personal social media accounts by persons who may be serving police officers.

"In response PSNI professional standards department has instigated disciplinary proceedings against one individual who has been identified as a serving officer.

"The review of the material is ongoing at this stage."

The Guardian reported that six PSNI officers or civilian support staff are among the group under investigation. Some of the tweets at the centre of the investigation include allegations against a Northern Irish journalist and also the abuse of another journalist from a Belfast radio station in the form of name calling.

The tweets are also reported as including pictures of the interiors of PSNI stations, including a CCTV monitoring station in Belfast.

Other pictures of alleged crime suspects and convicted criminals sent include a message urging a prisoner to "put the rope up" and "hang yourself".

Mark Lindsay, chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, told the Guardian: "We are fully aware of the advantages of using Twitter to communicate with others and, indeed, the wider community. It is a public forum, and we would urge our officers to exercise great care and caution in their use of all social media platforms.

"There are dangers and pitfalls. There is also still a 'severe' threat to our officers and it's essential for their own safety, and the safety of their colleagues, that officers realise the risks and take all necessary precautions to avoid unnecessary attention."

Meanwhile the Sunday Life reported that police are also investigating claims that Alliance Party leader Naomi Long has been trolled by a serving police officer.

Ms Long is currently taking time away from politics as she undergoes treatment for endometriosis.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman said: "We have been dealing with a complaint concerning an allegation that a police officer has been misusing social media."

Belfast Telegraph

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