POLICE staff in West Yorkshire have fallen foul of rules on the use of social networking sites, an independent report has revealed.
Inspectors have been looking at all police forces in England and Wales to check they have robust policies to ensure police integrity is beyond reproach.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) turned the spotlight on West Yorkshire’s Facebook and Twitter policy.
The report says: “HMIC’s independently commissioned research identified three cases of inappropriate behaviour on Facebook or Twitter by members of staff at West Yorkshire Police, which have been referred back to the force to deal with as they see fit.”
The report offers no further details and West Yorkshire Police refused to elaborate.
The latest report follows on from the ‘Without Fear or Favour’ inquiry launched in 2011.
Inspectors looked at impartiality and integrity issues.
They examined policies which govern relationships between police officers and journalists, the receipt of gifts and hospitality and the taking of second jobs by police staff.
The aim was to avoid even the perception of corruption.
The latest inspection found that West Yorkshire Police had made progress but had not moved quickly enough.
In West Yorkshire, HMIC found that the force had conducted an “evaluation” of integrity issues.
It was also in the process of creating a centralised electronic database for the registering of gifts and hospitality replacing multiple registers in individual police stations, and a new policy on second jobs was out for consultation.
The report also revealed that since September 2011 there had been 190 applications for second jobs with 175 being approved.
The force has also updated its media policy, which outlines how relationships with the Press should work, and stipulates that staff and officers must record all contact with journalists.
Between September 2011 and May this year, the force did not investigate any instances of inappropriate disclosure of information to the media.
West Yorkshire Police’s policy on how police officers and staff should behave on social networking sites covers what is expected when staff are both at work and off duty.
The force monitors sites to make sure standards are met.
A training package on various integrity policies has been turned into a “mandatory 30-minute e-learning package” for staff.
HM Inspector of Constabulary for the Northern Region, Roger Baker QPM, said: “West Yorkshire Police has made some improvements to how it identifies, monitors and manages integrity issues since HMIC last reviewed this in 2011.
“However we are concerned that changes have not been implemented at a quicker pace.”
The report also revealed that between
September 2011 and May 2012 the force instigated 31 investigations into the general conduct of its officers and staff.
In a statement a West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “West Yorkshire Police’s view is very clear. We expect the very highest standards of police officers and staff and anyone who betrays the trust put in them by the public, by acting in an improper or unlawful way, will be dealt with.
“We have a duty to maintain those standards, for the sake of the public and for the vast majority of police officers, who are out there every day, doing an extremely difficult and demanding job, to keep our communities safe.
“All matters have now been dealt with.”