Pc disciplined over Facebook posts

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Published: Saturday 21st March 2015 by The News Editor

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A police officer has been disciplined after he posted a “joke” on Facebook about sexual assaults by Rolf Harris.

The Metropolitan Police constable was handed a final written warning about his internet activity by bosses last year.

A Freedom of Information response from the force said the officer “posted a joke about sexual assaults on minors by Rolf Harris”.

Harris was jailed for nearly six years for a string of indecent assaults after he was investigated under Operation Yewtree, which was set up by the Met Police.

The Pc also “openly criticised” the force and posted a status about police community support officers which “attracted a number of negative comments from friends”.

Scotland Yard confirmed that a misconduct hearing took place in December in which a Pc faced allegations related to the posting of inappropriate comments on social media.

The panel found an allegation of “discreditable conduct” was proved. The officer, who has not been identified, remains in his post.

It was one of a number of cases of alleged misuse of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter by civilian staff and officers at the Metropolitan Police – the UK’s largest force – revealed in the FOI response.

Other disclosures include:

:: A Pc was dismissed after posing on a website in full uniform “indecently exposing himself”;

:: An officer allegedly posted photos of himself with a long-barrelled rifle;

:: A community support officer was dismissed for excessive use of Facebook while on duty, logging on to the site for 23 hours over two months;

:: A member of police staff was dismissed following allegations that they took a picture, which was later posted on Twitter, of a car which had been seized;

:: A member of police staff was dismissed for making inappropriate comments regarding colleagues;

:: An officer was given a first written warning after she used “inappropriate language” by saying she had poured beer over a member of public;

:: A member of police staff was dismissed after making “inappropriate comments” regarding work colleagues.

In total Scotland Yard recorded 33 allegations against officers or staff regarding activity on social networking sites which resulted in misconduct meetings or hearings between January 2012 and December 2014.

More than half resulted in written warnings but five led to dismissals.

Steven George-Hilley, director of the think-tank Parliament Street, which carried out the research, said: “Police staff should be using social media in the fight against crime, not to indulge in salacious online activity.

“Bad behaviour from bobbies on sites like Twitter and Facebook can damage public trust and must be tackled with robust punishment to ensure high standards of integrity at all times.”

Last year an investigation by the Press Association revealed that hundreds of police employees have been investigated for breaching social media guidelines at forces across England and Wales over five years.

Detective Chief Superintendent Alaric Bonthron, of the Met’s directorate of professional standards, said: “The MPS treats any allegation about the conduct of its staff extremely seriously and will always take steps to determine whether the conduct of that member of staff has breached the required standards of professional behaviour.

“We investigate a variety of allegations of misconduct relating to officers and staff. These range from inappropriate comments on social media to more serious cases of corruption.

“Each is dealt with according to the circumstances.”

Published: Saturday 21st March 2015 by The News Editor

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