Guest Post – PCSOs, Camera, Action!

PCSOs, Camera, Action!Picture courtesy of Russell Webster

One of the great things about social media is that it is an equal opportunities employer.

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the rest are all absolutely free to set up and operate whether you are a Chief Constable, a Custody Sergeant or a PCSO (or even a police dog).

Get a real sense of what it’s like to be a PCSO

Better than that, one of the main reasons that people like to follow police social media accounts is the chance to get a real sense of what it means to be a PCSO, policeman or woman.

Every year only about 6,000 pass the police recruitment test leaving another 59,000 disappointed. That’s a lot of interested people out there.

In the world of social media, most of us instinctively disregard corporate press releases and tend to get our information more directly from people doing the job.

Front-line work is interesting

That’s the reason why many of the most popular police tweeters and bloggers are front-line staff. Members of the public are genuinely interested in day-to-day police work. It’s also the reason why Nightjack was phenomenally popular until the Times hacked into his account and spoiled the party.

There are well over 70 PCSOs regularly tweeting about their work.

Twitter is, of course, particularly well-suited to police work especially when Tweeters update regularly over the course of a shift. It’s the same principle which underlies the popularity of TV soap operas (although most of the PCSO tweeters I follow have more credible storylines than @bbceastenders).

Some stories need more than 140 characters

Sometimes, though, it’s not possible to communicate a story, or a more complex idea in a series of 140 characters.

That’s where blogging comes in.

@psco_packham blogs regularly for Sussex Police and, of course, there’s four people blogging here at Onthebeat101.

Lack of PCSO bloggers

However, there aren’t that many other PCSO bloggers about.

So, I’d like to use this blog post to encourage all you PCSOs out there to think about blogging.

The great thing about blogging is that you can write about anything that interests you. I always think that Tweeting is like a daily paper when you keep up with the news and sport. Blogging is like the Sunday papers when there’s time to read about the background or profile the characters who are in the news.

Blogging is great for engaging with the public

Blogging is a great way for PCSOs to communicate and engage with the public, and to explain in more detail some of the whys and wherefores as well as just reporting what happens at work.

I think it’s particularly important for PCSOs to get their voices heard at the moment.

South Yorkshire Police’s recent pronouncements about the possible role changes makes PCSOs vulnerable to becoming a lightening conductor for all the strong feelings about the Government’s plans for the police and the Winsor Review.

PCSOs need to be heard

Blogging gives PCSOs the chance to put their side of things in a form you can control.

And where better to start than writing a guest post for Onthebeat101?

The hardest thing about blogging is coming up with new posts all the time. Why not submit an idea here and then, if you get the taste for it, get going on a blog of your own?

About our guest poster:

Russell Webster is a researcher and writer specialising in the areas of drugs, alcohol and crime. He blogs regularly over at www.russellwebster.com where his main subjects are the use of social media and payment by results.

Want to write a post for Onthebeat101? Get in touch by emailing onthebeat101@gmail.com. Like the idea but not sure what to write? Don’t worry! We’re happy to have a friendly chat to discuss your ideas with you!

Want to know more about social media?

Take a look at our post about PCSOs on Twitter and read the Story of a PCSO on Twitter. Plus don’t forget to Like our Facebook page for more updates and info about the onthebeat team and to join in our community!

Headshot courtesy of Russell Webster.

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