I was lucky enough to speak at the National Police Web Managers Conference on Friday (slides below). It’s interesting to talk about digital engagement in a different public sector context and the Police are especially interesting because of the challenge that they face in trying to combine operational needs with engagement work. My view is that this really all comes down to good community policing – but with a need to realise that online communities are real and need policing too.

Its about how you start to create a sense of Police indentity online and start to use it both to Police and to engage. One of the best examples I have seen of this is hotelalpha9 on Twitter because he has created a very real online persona that is still very much a Police Officer – but there are of course loads of other good examples emerging. One of the ones from the conference was Sussex Police’s use of twitter during a recent rally in Brighton – hopefully those slides will also be shared. Anyway – I’m speaking at the ACPO conference next week and will post a longer piece after that as my head is very much in the area of thinking about online from a multi-agency perspective. Its odd to realise how vested in Local Government I have got and useful to think about these things in a different way.

One thing that is still very strong common theme for me is the need to start building this civic infrastructure online – like the community police officer – as our online lives become more significant. As I said at the event – the important thing to remember about these virtual spaces is that they are actually very real.

Unfortunately I had to leave without seeing a lot of the presentations – but as with all of the Police stuff I have been doing recently its interesting to see the difference that the absence of elected representatives (at the moment) makes to the engagement process.

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