Friday, February 08, 2013

Queer British cop quits after misusing force Twitter account to contact gay men

It could be seen as coercive

An award winning police special who allegedly used a force Twitter account to contact gay men has resigned after volunteering for more than a decade.

Head of Dudley District Special Constabulary James Horton, 34, quit following allegations that he had misused the account which was linked to West Midlands Police.

Mr Horton, who was head of a team of 70 special constables, resigned before disciplinary proceedings could take place. It is understood that he used the account to message gay men.

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: 'A member of the force's Special Constabulary was referred to the Police Professional Standards Department over alleged misuse of a force social media account, against force policy. 'The individual officer concerned has since resigned. 'Any identified breaches of force policy are taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly and professionally investigated.'

Mr Horton's resignation comes a little over six months since he won an award for ten years of unpaid service. He was awarded the Chief Constable's Award for Outstanding Contribution to West Midlands Police at a ceremony in Birmingham last July.

The award also recognised the fact that he had continued to volunteer despite battling Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

After accepting the award he had said: 'I've always been enthusiastic for what I do. 'If you are going to volunteer for something you need to love doing it and everyday I'm encouraged and inspired by my team.'

The complaints were made just months after former West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Gordon Scobbie spoke out about how police should deal with officers who misuse social networking sites.

Now second in command of Tayside Police and police spokesman on social media, Assistant Chief Constable Scobbie said that forces risked looking 'out of touch and heavy-handed' if they overreacted to mistakes made by officers using social media.

His comments came after two officers were disciplined for apparently misusing Twitter last autumn. One acting inspector in the West Midlands was demoted to sergeant after an investigation was launched into his activity on the site.

At the time the police said the investigation was because he had allegedly tweeted pictures of a Second World War weapon and grenade that was found in a house search.

Sarah Giles, a PCSO for Devon and Cornwall Police was told to delete her account after complaints were made by Exeter University over a series of tweets about policing students.

A police inspector was sacked last year after posting a picture of his gentials on Facebook.

Daemon Johnson of Northamptonshire Police claimed that he had meant to text the picture to his girlfriend but had pressed the wrong button.

Original report here

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