Archive for March 11th, 2006

March 11th, 2006

Big Brother

Posted in Blogging, The Job - Comment by 200

The ‘Management’ hate it when the minions speak out. I guess this is true of any industry but is especially true of the police. Anything which gives a lie to the carefully channelled ‘press release speak’ is to be discouraged lest the public discover not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. Individuals not towing the party line are actively discouraged at best and stamped upon at worst.

It is, therefore, no surprise that the shiny trouser brigade at police HQs up and down the land are becoming somewhat disgruntled with the popularity of blogging & more specifically police bloggers.

The Met sent round an email to every member of staff advising of its disquiet at the practice of police officers publishing their personal thoughts on websites such as this and warning of the consequences for police bloggers should they stray fro the narrowly defined guidance within the said HQ missive.

As a result several police bloggers have announced that they are either ceasing their blogs or are no longer posting articles of a police nature.

The Met have been careful to say that they cannot stop bloggers in their employ, only that people should be mindful that they risk getting stuck on if they post anything the Met considers inappropriate.

The catch-all discipline offence they will use is ‘bringing the police service into disrepute’. This basically means saying anything the management don’t want you to say. There will be no requirement that your blog actually did bring the force into disrepute, they don’t even have to produce any evidence that a single person thought any less of the service because of what they read.

The thing I find really strange, well actually I don’t because with 200 weeks to go I’m well used to the hypocrisy of the police discipline machinations, is that senior officers telling blatant lies to the media & public isn’t bringing the force into disrepute while PCs telling it like it is, er, is.

The World Weary Detective is just one such police-blogger to hang up his quill. Having succumbed to the veiled threats fired off by the Met he has decided not to risk the ire of his employers and has quit his blog. Another ex job blog can be found at Brian’s Brief Encounters. He no longer blogs about police work and has removed all previous police-related posts.

One blogger has removed all references to the town and force he works, several others haven’t posted for a month or more.

Stephen Newton, MCIPR, whatever that is, on his blog over at his Public relations consultant blog talks about the demise of the World Weary Detective on his blog. It seems Stephen is a PR Consultant and thus by default well versed in the art of getting paid for talking bullshit. He starts his entry thus “Anonymous work blogger, World Weary Detective, has quit in a fit of hyperbole after his employer, the Metropolitan Police, issued guidance for bloggers.” He then goes on to say WWD is probably right to retire of he can’t blog responsibly citing such risks as “Anonymous bloggers may not be who they claim to be. Genuine work bloggers may have access to confidential information, that concerns not just their employer but individuals who deserve a right to privacy. The shield of anonymity can enable cowardly acts of betrayal.”

One could be forgiven for thinking Mr Newton is acting in his capacity as PR Consultant for the Met such is his apparent brown-nosing to the ethos of corporate censorship. He, among others,  has spectacularly missed the point. The reason the Met and other forces don’t want their officers blogging has nothing to do with protecting the public. It is about gagging those who actually know the truth about how a modern police service runs, and how the government and ACPO use smoke and mirrors to make the bed rosier than it is.

They don’t want you to know the truth.