SIX police employees have been subjected to disciplinary procedures for misusing Facebook, new figures have revealed.
Three staff were probed for inappropriate comments including a manager who was given a final written warning while one was dismissed and the other was not upheld. Two employees were probed for comments that could bring the force into disrepute resulting in one resignation ahead of a disciplinary meeting and one final written warning.
There was also one case of a racist comment that led to a final written warning.
Sussex Police bosses defended the figures saying that six alleged offences in five years indicated their social media policy was “effective”.
The new figures showed nationally that more than 800 officers and staff in five years were quizzed over Facebook misuse.
Serious breaches of forces’ codes included posting pictures of officers posing with weapons, sending abusive messages to members of the public and in one case in Northampton, being pictured in a “compromising position” with another officer.
One in 11 national disciplinary cases ended in dismissal, resignation or retirement.
Chief Constable Giles York, a regular Twitter user, said he was “an enthusiastic advocate” of social media and the “exciting opportunities” it presented for police to interact with their communities.
He added: “We trust our officers to use discretion and common sense in their decision making, which must extend to social media.
“We have a permissive approach that encourages our people to use social media if it is relevant to their role and offer a simple ‘traffic light system’ to help them assess how they should do that.
“I don’t want them to be fearful of new ways of interacting with the public.”
Sussex Police was one of five forces unable to fully comply with the information request saying their systems did not let them easily check how many officers had been disciplined over Facebook use.
A police spokesman said the level of punishment for Facebook misuse is decided by the chair of a disciplinary hearing, normally an officer of superintendent rank or above.