UK police forces come under fire for using official Twitter accounts to follow celebrities, sports teams and brands

UK police forces Twitter accounts have faced criticism after a mugging victim complained that officers were using forces' official accounts to follow celebrities, sports teams and brands.

Rihanna and Justin Bieber are followed by UK police forces on Twitter

Official police Twitter accounts from across the UK were found to be following celebrities such as Miranda Hart and Rihanna and brands including Victoria's Secret and Christian Louboutin.

The official complaint has prompted the country's biggest force to clean-up its official social media accounts and follows Police Scotland's review of its Twitter use after an offensive message was sent using its official account.

Social media is intended to help forces keep in touch with the public and engage with residents by posting updates about crimes and appeals for information. However, the users forces have chosen to follow appear to no apparent link with police business.

Currently Police Scotland follows Andy Murray and US president Barak Obama and in the West Midlands police in Solihull follow Cricket Australia for 'all the latest breaking Aussie cricket news'. Leicestershire's force follows Wayne Rooney's wife Coleen and comedienne Miranda Hart with Lambeth police following Rihanna, Simon Cowell and Justin Bieber, until the complaint was made.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman has told the press: "Guidance is issued to police and staff authorised to use the MPS social media accounts and this includes following appropriate users on Twitter."

Adding that Lambeth has been asked to "make appropriate changes" to its account.

Gordon Scobbie, the former Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) officer responsible for social media is quoted in The Telegraph saying: "can understand following some politicians, celebrities with a cause, or perhaps local celebrities, but not Rihanna and Justin Bieber.

“I think there needs to be a better understanding of senior managers as to where does this fit into the overall strategy of what we are trying to do.

“Where forces are getting themselves into a bit of trouble is where they just go into it without thinking and letting a few people loose on it.”

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.