West Midlands Police made front page news on Saturday – not unusual in the case of the Birmingham Mail, but not that common if the paper in question is a national newspaper.
The story revealed that West Midlands was one of two police forces looking at getting private firms to run some of the departments they operate. Naturally, it’s a politically sensitive subject, although Labour’s natural tendency to oppose such a move should be tempered by the fact that legislation brought in by Tony Blair’s government makes such a move possible. But then again, short memories do tend to make for long political careers. Just as ‘Lord’ John Prescott.
Now, West Midlands Police is one of the best police forces – in my opinion – when it comes to finding a force which ‘gets’ Twitter. Officers tweet regularly, and they have a number of corporate accounts which are informative and, at times, entertaining.
And in the case of the latter, the Twitter account for West Midlands Police’s force helicopter team is second to none:
But it appears even the best tweeting organisations can be hit by the curse of corporate speak when trying to put over its points in a hurry. Yesterday, as the idea of privatising police services pushed their way to the top of the news list – only to be replaced by Frank Carson’s funeral at lunchtime on Sky News at least – West Midlands Police’s main account went into corporate speak overdrive:
To me, the guarding of a crime scene is probably one of the things members of the public are most likely to see. Although I suspect they were trying to reiterate the point that this won’t lead to security guards making arrests.
Anyway, all of the above could have been summed up quite neatly in one Tweet which said: “Our budgets are being squeezed like you wouldn’t believe. We need to solve crime for less cash.”
Twitter, and indeed social networks in general, have the ability to empower both big organisations which serve the public and the public they seek to serve – but only if they drop their guard, or at very least, their gobbledegook corporate speak. It’s a big leap to take at times – but the times when it’s most important to do so are often the times when it matters most that they do so.