TAYSIDE Police have initiated a consultation exercise designed to determine how they could use social media to communicate information to the public.
The survey, which can be completed on the Tayside Police website at www.tayside.police.uk, comes on the back of a social media pilot being run by the force in South Perthshire which has seen community officers ‘tweet’ on the beat.
Sarah Craig, senior media relations officer, said: “With over 145 million Twitter accounts, over 500 million Facebook users and over 200 million blogs posting more than one million new posts daily it is important that we are part of the social media global conversation.
“We want to find out how we can use social media tools to engage in a more meaningful way with members of the public.
“This is not about abandoning the traditional ways of communicating, but print media is shrinking and losing some of its traditional audience. More and more people are using social media to find out what’s happening and discuss issues in their local area.
“They are also expressing opinions, both positive and sometimes critical. Either way, unless we are engaged with these people, we miss out on a valuable opportunity to glean important information about how they feel about crime and policing.”
She continued: “The Twitter trial in South Perthshire seems to be working well on a local level. Officers have been ‘tweeting’ everything from general advice and road closures, to crime information and appeals.
“Posting these messages on Twitter is a similar concept to pinning up a poster on community noticeboards, the only difference being, it’s quicker, completely free, and directed at the people who are already engaging with us.
“At a time when all police forces are facing redundancies and huge cuts to budgets, it’s vitally important that we make the best possible use of free but highly effective tools to do our business. Free social media allows us to post accurate messages quickly, and to target the right people at the right time.
“Allowing two-way communication is important to us and we aim to have a new forum launched on the force website over the coming months where ideas, concerns, and feedback can be discussed and shared.
“While we have used Facebook to good effect during specific incidents, we are now exploring ways in which our presence can be more meaningful.”
Sarah concluded: “We are also experimenting with online digital content on the force website with the introduction of our own in-house videos being featured which are linked to our You Tube channel. By producing our own videos of incidents and events we get the opportunity to tell the whole story without any context being lost.
“It is important to stress that none of this will replace the traditional ways in which we do business, it will simply enhance the way we do business. It’s just another way of communicating with the public.
“We look forward to seeing the results of the survey.”