South Wales Police share information with #supersaturday initiative
As well as managing the crowds on Six Nations Saturday, South Wales Police were managing their public image through the use of social media site Twitter. Post police reporter JASON EVANS looks at the force’s #supersaturday initiative.
MARCH 16 turned into a real Super Saturday when the Welsh rugby team blew England off the pitch in Cardiff to win the Six Nations title.
Swansea City were also taking on Arsenal in the Premier League and, of course, being a Saturday night, there was plenty of action in the bars in towns and cities across South Wales.
For South Wales Police it was also a #supersaturday, with the force taking to social media website Twitter to give regular updates on the work of its officers across the force, from policing elite sport to dealing with drunks in the cells, patrolling the streets or clocking-on for duty.
The force's assistant director of corporate communications, James Pritchard, said the Twitter experiment had been a hit.
He said: "The whole aim of #supersaturday was to showcase the outstanding work of the force in policing massive events such as those we saw on Saturday.
"Social media is transforming the way we communicate as a police force, and in the future the use of digital technology in spreading our messages is only going to get more important.
"By building on the increased following it allows us, as a force, to engage positively and reach many more people than would ever have been possible otherwise."
Throughout the course of the day the force Tweeted scores of messages and pictures to its followers on the social media site. Many gave a behind-the- scenes glimpse of what it is like to police major public events,
Forces around the UK are increasingly turning to social media such as Twitter and Facebook to tell the public more about their work.
Russell Webster, an expert on the police use of such technology, said it could fulfil a number of functions including appealing for information and making photographs of suspects widely available — while cutting the cost of their communications.
But he said that perhaps the most important facet of tweeting and Facebooking was developing a dialogue with the public. He said: "Perhaps the most positive outcome has been the way that police have used social media to break down barriers and stereotypes and develop an ongoing dialogue with sections of the community who would often be either uninterested or reflexively antagonistic.
"The fact that police tweeters have been prepared to tweet good and bad news and shared some aspects of police culture and their own personal lives has humanised the police force and made many officers more approachable."
While it seems the force made plenty of friends with its online presence over the weekend, they also played host to some VIPs who wanted to see South Wales Police in action at first hand — the Twickenham police commander, senior officers from the Spanish police and representatives of the national College of Policing.
Assistant chief constable Matt Jukes, the designated gold commander for Saturday, said: "Saturday was a great day and I am really proud of the work of South Wales Police and all our partner agencies.
''It was a great team effort by everyone.
"We had visitors to the force who wanted to see how South Wales Police does business on a busy day and I can say that they were all really impressed."