North Yorkshire Police Twitter account closures criticised

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Force's Twitter pageImage source, North Yorkshire Police/Twitter
Image caption,
The force plans to introduce eight district social media accounts

A police force which has ditched individual officers' social media accounts has been accused of taking a "backwards step".

North Yorkshire Police said its decision followed guidance from the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC).

Ex-officer Mike Pannett accused the force of "suppressing the human side of policing".

Gavin Stephens, who sits on the council, said "people should not be expected to follow dozens of accounts".

The force said it was to close a number of social media accounts run by individual officers and teams to make it easier "to find the latest updates".

It has a number of popular Twitter users, including traffic officer Paul Cording, who has more than 14,000 followers.

'PR failure'

Responding to the announcement via a video post, the officer said he was disappointed, but understood the reasons for the decision.

Mr Pannett, who frequently comments on police matters, tweeted that it was "the biggest PR failure in recent years".

He said the "years of building trust and confidence" and community engagement had gone "down the pan".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Another Twitter user said the human side of policing would "get lost in the usual dirge promulgated by sanitised official accounts".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Others also questioned the point of having social media channels where "the social aspect" had been removed.

However, Surrey Police chief constable Mr Stephens, who is the NPCC lead for social media and digital engagement, said people "should not be expected to follow dozens of different accounts" to find out what was happening in their area.

He added that there was no directive to ban account holders, but "talented local officers, staff and volunteers" would be encouraged "to post content on a smaller number of official accounts".

A spokesman for the force said it was "moving to eight district accounts... managed by our local teams" and would be "changing our approach to individual and specialist team accounts" at a later date.

He added that there was also a need to ensure officers were in a position to respond to crimes reported via social media in response to future changes to regulations.

The new accounts will be introduced from the 1 April.

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