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A New Canteen Culture: The Potential to Use Social Media as Evidence in Policing

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Policing: Journal of Policy and Practice
Issue number3
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)346-355
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date20/04/17
<mark>Original language</mark>English


While the use of research in policing is not new (Reiner, 2010), there is currently a strong drive towards a more scientific research context to be applied to policing. This forms part of a wider professionalization agenda from the College of Policing. That said, the debate around what constitutes knowledge and evidence in policing is highly contested, as are the modes of data collection. This article proposes that the methods utilized by academic researchers should be dependent on the research question, and the nature of the phenomenon being explored. At a time when police morale is reportedly low (Hoggett et al., 2014; Weinfass, 2015) and officers are not typically willing to openly discuss their thoughts on the current state of policing, this article explores and posits a role for social media and police blogs as a method to capture practitioner experiences, thoughts, and perceptions of policing.

The use of social media by police officers is experiencing a burgeoning interest throughout the service. Usage ebbs and flows in volume and popularity, and it seems this is ostensibly dependent on the interpretation of information through mainstream news channels. This ‘private’ space offers an anonymous forum for officers to voice their observations and concerns about contemporary policing issues. Notwithstanding, these forums provide researchers with a new opportunity to investigate key issues and challenges for policing (Wilkinson and Thelwall, 2012), or garner additional evidence to complement ongoing study.

This article suggests that these private narratives offer both the research community and students of policing a new form of knowledge capture and creation, and one that allows insight into the changing nature of the policing sphere. This article explores and promotes both the importance and the implications of innovative practices in relation to the use of social media as police knowledge, offering two examples to support the proposition.