Eleven police officers and civilian members of staff in Norfolk have been investigated for social media misuse in the past five years.

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Five officers and members of staff in Suffolk were also investigated, leading to two resignations and one dismissal. The dismissal came following a misconduct hearing, which heard, among other matters, how the sergeant involved accessed an ex-partner’s private Facebook account.

In Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire there were two instances in each county when force staff were investigated for breaching police guidelines on social media use.

Across the country, 828 cases were reported to police bosses, ranging from social media gaffes to sackable offences which threatened to bring forces into disrepute.

In Norfolk a special constable resigned after posting inappropriate pictures and comments on Facebook, while other staff received written warnings, advice or management action, including a constable who contacted a victim of crime via Facebook.

A Norfolk Constabulary police spokeswoman said: “The public of Norfolk have a right to expect that officers and staff act with integrity, fairness and within the law at all times.

“Ethics and integrity are at the core of our business and confidence in policing depends on officers and staff demonstrating the highest level of professional and personal behaviour.”

She said the force has clear social media guidelines and added: “Social media can play a positive role in policing – keeping members of the public informed about incidents, day-to-day work and traffic issues – while also giving officers another way of keeping in touch with residents.”

A Suffolk Police spokesman said: “Suffolk Police is committed to ensuring that its officers and staff act at all times with integrity, fairness and within the law.

“The force has a set of standards of professional behaviour which apply to all officers and staff. The standards are in line with the College of Policing code of ethics and include guidelines covering the use of social media that highlight what is and what is not acceptable when officers and staff are using social networks for professional use; ensuring they act within the law and do not leave themselves or others vulnerable.”

Do you have a policing story? Email crime correspondent Peter Walsh at peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

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