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Social Media Use Complaints (838A/23)


  1. The number of police officers who had complaints logged against them for their use of social media in (i) 2018, (ii) 2019, (iii) 2020, (iv) 2021 and (v) 2022.
  2. For the combined five-year period please provide a breakdown of the ranks of the officers who had complaints brought against them.
  3. Please provide a list of the complaints – that cannot be linked to the individual officers – which show (a) the social media platform they were using relating to the complaint, and (b) a one sentence explanation of the nature of the complaint.
  4. Please state how many officers faced disciplinary sanctions as a result and what these sanctions were.

NOTE: I am interested in police officers, NOT PCSOs, civilian employees or special constables.

NOTE: By complaint I mean any complaint that has been logged by your force which may have come internally or from a member of the public.


Our data are not organised in such a way as to allow us to provide this information within the appropriate (cost) limit under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. This is because we do not have an allegation type of ‘social media’ in either of our old 2012 Police Regulations or our current 2020 Police Regulations. Alongside the new regulations that were introduced in 2020, we introduced National Factors which includes one for ‘Social Media’, allowing us to search for related matters. However, for any cases prior to 2020, we would have to conduct a manual review of over 900 cases. We estimate that to conduct these searches would take over 60 hours, which would exceed the appropriate limit (FOIA, s.12).

This means that the cost of providing you with the information is above the amount to which we are legally required to respond i.e. the cost of locating and retrieving the information exceeds the ‘appropriate level’ as stated in the Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice for this part of the request and if one part of a request exceeds the fees limit then S12 of the Act applies to the whole request.

However, under Section 16 of the Act I have a duty to provide advice and assistance in relation to your request. Therefore, we can provide answers to your questions based on the National Factor of ‘Social Media’ (which was introduced in 2020), for the period 2020 – 2022. Please find this information attached (838A_Attachment).

This should not be taken as a precedent that additional information would be supplied outside of the time/fees legislation for any subsequent requests.

Further information on section 12 of FOI is available here:

In addition to the attached response, please be advised that we want our officers to uphold the highest of standards so the public has the utmost confidence in them.

It is important to note the force operates under the Police Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Behaviour. This includes challenging any inappropriate behaviour or action which would discredit the police service or undermine public confidence in policing.

Our Professional Standards Department take a robust stance and are committed to rooting out abuse of power, criminality and corruption whenever we find evidence of it. This is done by carrying out thorough investigations, offering support and dealing appropriately with anyone found to be acting in an inappropriate manner.

We must do everything we can to maintain public confidence and trust in policing. This will provide reassurance to the public that we mean it when we say we’ll do all we can to preserve and rebuild trust.