Chief Inspector Mark Payne from the West Midlands Police gave a really enjoyable talk on how they are using social media.
A year ago officers weren’t allowed to access social network sites unless they were in a specific crime division.
Like all police forces, they have a need to engage directly with the public. With shrinking traditional media – social media offers a real alternative, with specific opportunities of engaging with younger people – and audience that’s incredibly difficult to reach for police forces.
West Midlands recently launched a group on Facebook (October 2008). They combined a small marketing campaign and word of mouth has seen the number of fans grow to 1,300.
The page includes videos, contact information, advice and resources you can download.
It is providing a great platform to engage with the public and to drive awareness of their initiatives.
They launched a YouTube Channel in the Summer. They upload new video every two weeks. The videos typically are focused on certain topics and campaigns. It provides a means for the public to hear directly from the police.
Prior to launching, the top search result for “West Midlands Police” on YouTube brought back a BNP video…
There’s a new website launching in the New Year. It will include “PCTV” delivering video directly from their site.
And of course my favourite: Plodcasts
Last but not least they now have the ability (since November) to send messages to people directly via Bluetooth in a 50m radius. It’s mostly used at events, public meetings and football matches to send information and make requests.
The work that they are doing in mobilizing social media to engage with the public is incredible!