Essex: Officer Resigns Over Facebook Post

A police officer from Essex resigned following complaints about inappropriate comments or pictures.

At least two officers were sacked, seven quit and 150 faced disciplinary action after posting inappropriate photos or comments on Facebook in the past four years - an officer from Essex resigned following complaints about inappropriate comments or pictures.

Officers used the popular social networking site, which has 30 million users in the UK, to harass former partners and ex-colleagues, to comment on others' wives, and to suggest they had beaten up members of the public during protests. Some even revealed details of police operations, tried to befriend victims of crime, or were caught in inappropriate photographs, forces said.

The details, released to the Press Association following a request under the Freedom of Information Act, come as a review into police corruption found there was a "significant blurring'" between officers' personal and professional lives on social networking sites, which risked damaging the service's reputation.

The figures, from 41 of the 43 forces in England and Wales, cover between 2008 and 2010, but a second officer was sacked earlier this year for referring to another officer as a "grass" and a "liar" on Facebook and harassing a female colleague. Seven other officers - two special constables from the Dorset force and one officer from each of Essex, Bedfordshire, Cheshire, North Wales, and South Yorkshire - resigned following complaints, the figures showed.

Roger Baker, who led a review into police corruption for Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), said:"Social networking is seen as a risk by all forces and authorities, but there are limited or inconsistent policies around what is acceptable, what you should do, what you shouldn't do. We found a significant blurring between people's professional lives on social networking sites and their private lives which may be in the public domain, and private lives which probably should remain extremely private.''"

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said that while the service recognised the widespread benefits of social networking sites, it "also understands the risks relating to compromise, operational effectiveness and reputational damage".