An analysis of UK Policing Engagement via Social Media

Fernandez, Miriam; Dickinson, Tom and Alani, Harith (2017). An analysis of UK Policing Engagement via Social Media. In: Social Informatics. SocInfo 2017 (Ciampaglia, G.; Mashhadi, A. and Yasseri, T. eds.), Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer, pp. 289–304.



Police forces in the UK make use of social media to communicate and engage with the public. However, while guidance reports claim that social media can enhance the accessibility of policing organisations, research studies have shown that exchanges between the citizens and the police tend to be infrequent. Social media usually act as an extra channel for delivering messages, but not as a mean for enabling a deeper engagement with the public. This has led to a phenomena where police officers and staff started to use social media in a personal capacity in the aim of getting closer to the public. In this paper, we aim to understand what attracts citizens to engage with social media policing content, from corporate as well as from non-corporate accounts. Our approach combines learnings from existing theories and studies on user engagement as well as from the analysis of 1.5 Million posts from 48 corporate and 2,450 non-corporate Twitter police accounts. Our results provide police-specific guidelines on how to improve communication to increase public engagement and participation.

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