Sunday, October 17, 2021

Police officers warned of inappropriate WhatsApp messages

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A detective has warned police officers against sharing inappropriate WhatsApp messages as five people are under investigation in a chat group involving murderer Wayne Couzens.

Marc Jones, chairman of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC), acknowledged that some in the industry use “dark humor” to deal with difficult circumstances – but said high standards must be shown at all levels.

His comments come after five serving officers from three armed forces continue to be investigated for gross misconduct over a WhatsApp group believed to be part of Sarah Everard’s killer that contained misogynistic and “discriminatory” messages .

Two more were charged with public office misconduct earlier this year after pictures were taken and later shared on WhatsApp at the Wembley scene of the murders of sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

In a briefing with journalists, when asked what police and detective inspectors could do about the distribution of sensitive or inappropriate news, Mr. Jones said, “I think one of the problems is that you don’t know what you don’t know.”

The Conservative Lincolnshire Police and Detective Superintendent added, “I think people will have dealt with difficult circumstances with black humor over time; It’s not the same as sharing inappropriate content in any way and that goes back to what I said about this cultural shift.

“Every new recruit of the 20,000 that will be recruited must understand that this is not acceptable; every officer above them must understand that this is not acceptable.

“The standards of what is acceptable are set by the top of each police force. I think it is right for them to think about it and take appropriate action. It’s probably something that [National] The council of police chiefs must agree on a mutually acceptable position. It has to be a universal standard. “

Retired Metropolitan Police Detective Superintendent Paige Kimberley earlier this month accused Commissioner Cressida Dick and Home Secretary Priti Patel of ignoring warnings of “vulgar and sexist” WhatsApp messages in an independent group chat by Met officials and contractors.

Ms. Kimberley said she wrote to the couple after the death of Ms. Everard, who was raped and murdered by off-duty officer Couzens after kidnapping her in a fake Covid arrest, asking for a review “how inappropriate behavior.” is addressed in the case of contract workers. ”

She is to be compensated after a court ruled last month that a job offer was withdrawn a day after she reported sexist messages and pictures on the WhatsApp group to her civilian superior.

Mr Jones on Thursday also called for a greater police presence on social media to combat misinformation.

He said the police should be more active on all online platforms in order to “reassure the public with the truth about what was going on” and “keep the conversation real”.

“If they don’t do that, the fear of crime is disproportionately much greater than the reality and that’s just as debilitating,” he said not to take the bus to go downtown to do her shopping because she is afraid They have massively impaired their quality of life.

“She was no less safe tomorrow than she was last week. But when she feels it, everything has changed and I think the police have a duty to make people feel safe.”

He told reporters that if social media posts were shared about alleged break-ins in sheds, for example, the police should reassure and investigate the public they know.

“I’m not suggesting that they should go on social media instead of running the police,” said Jones, but added, “I think all forces must ensure that their policies and procedures allow for an adequate level of resources To inform the public about these other media and to listen. “

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