This paper examines the problems for police reputation, operational effectiveness and integrity of the criminal justice system that can arise from off-duty use of social media (SM) by police officers. It locates recent trends in SM use against the background of changes in information and communication practices in policing and the wider community. The concept of police indiscretion is used to explore those features of SM that facilitate and encourage disclosures as well as to, using a series of case studies, identify the harms that can arise. It is suggested that there is currently insufficient appreciation of how SM is impacting upon policing and that, in contrast to the impacts of previous new technologies, SM has the potential to transform many policing practices more quickly and in a more wholesale fashion. Some suggestions for responding to this scenario are offered.
- police indiscretion
- social media