EXCLUSIVE: Dick Fedorcio, Met Police blogger engagement and my part in it…

 

G20 officer hides badge

I published a blog post earlier this year in which I questioned the Metropolitan Police's approach to social media and criticised what I perceived to be the wrong organisational attitude.

Rather than looking to embrace social media, listen, adapt and respond to the public and earn the reputation it deserves, comments made by the Met's Director of External Affairs, Dick Fedoricio, in a PR Week interview suggested otherwise:

"If I was seeking to
manipulate people, it would raise a question about how that reduced our
integrity. To be leaning on someone to say "give us a good blog" starts
to raise some ethical issues.
"

I wanted to return to this issue for a couple of reasons. Primarily, I was shocked (but unsurprised) to see that according the Evening Standard, the Met has now requested that all imagery of its officers hiding or obscuring their badges be removed from photo libraries and image databases (hiding numbers means officers can't be (easily) identified and is an illegal tactic usually performed to allow police to act with impunity while committing – often violent – offences against the public).

While the Standard accuses the Met of trying to "re-write history", a member of the public gets it right in a comment posted on the story:

"If people start uploading such images to Facebook and Twitter, will
they get their collars felt? We seem to be heading in that direction."

Leaving aside the jusdgement of which direction society is heading, the issue of whether material incriminating authorities published publicly in the social web can be removed remains – as does the question: what power do authorities have to, in DIck's words, "manipulate" or "lean on" someone to force removal?

Following the G20 the Met has signed up 6Consulting and Radian6 to run social media monitoring for the force so it's very likely that any 'offending' material will certainly be identified. That said, I return to the point I made originally which was that this approach reveals a traditional command and control communications culture at the Met which will not fit in the distributed, complex, networked world in which we now live.

I mentioned there were a couple of reasons I wanted to blog about this topic again. That's the first, the second is much more personal.

After my previous post in which the Met's Dick Fedorcio told PR Week that he will "not go as far as interacting with bloggers" he went right ahead by 'interacting' with me.

So how did he interact with me? Was it a comment left on my blog post examining the Met's approach to social media? Was it an email explaining the Met's decision not to interact with bloggers? 

No. Instead Dick left me a voicemail on my work phone. Why he phoned me at work I don't know (especially given my blog states clearly it's a personal site and encourages contact via my personal email address).

Dick's voicemail was rather aggressive (I'm sure this was unintentional) and stated that he worked for Scotland Yard (again, this is confusing, but I'm sure he meant the Metropolitan Police).

He advised me, in a rather intimidating fashion, that if I planned on blogging about the Met againI  should give him a call in advance.

Now I'm sure Dick meant only well by his inadvertently aggressive and intimidating phonecall advising I seek permission before blogging about the Met, but it seems clear to me that the Met are doing blogger engagement, despite what they tell PR Week.

Plus ca change…

Technorati tags: Dick Fedorcio, Metropolitan Police, blogger engagement

Comments

  1. I don’t suppose you were able to get a recording of your voicemail, were you?
    Will be blogging / tweeting this as far and wide as I can manage.

  2. Hairyears says:

    It’s easy to see why the Met are so worried: image-recognition software is improving rapidly and it may be good enough already to identify the officers concerned.
    Stand by for very heavy-handed intervention when someone systematically records the Met emerging from their stations for their shift, when it is almost certain that their badges will be visible.
    The software might not give 95%-probability matches, given low-resolution footage from the riots taken on peoples’ cellphones but I can assure you that the high-definition security cameras that festoon the City are entirely adequate… Or were, when taking pictures that have surely been deleted on the orders of the Met.

  3. @deathboy – sadly I don’t. As I say it was earlier in the year and I didn’t think to grab a recording.
    @hairyears – interesting. I think that with a lot of issues, the technology or ability exists, but when it comes down to it many companies will toe-the-line and follow the orders of Gov/State.

  4. Gave Mark Thomas the link to this blog and he’s retweeted it widely, hope this helps get the message out.

  5. Emile says:

    This makes me very angry.
    You’d think it would be better for them if they just behaved decently, rather than putting all this effort into bullying, and cover-ups, and back-firing attempts to manipulate public opinion away from the truth.
    It’s just more evidence of the arrogance and gutter-level integrity of the Met Police.

  6. What, pictures like these?
    http://tinyurl.com/yhz7jfv
    Bit late now, surely?

  7. Make that these
    http://tinyurl.com/c8ljy8

  8. @colmmu – thank you very much. Appreciated it. Helped spread the story a bit further :)
    @Emile – well, that’s just it: in terms of social media communications, companies can only really influence their reputation online (and offline) by behaving in a way that earns respect.
    Traditional corporations and state institutions used to be able to use media to say the right thing while carrying on doing the opposite. This is being challenged by the ability of the public to share their experiences with one-another via social media. It shines a light on the previously unseen sections of organisations actions.
    @Little Richardjohn – yes, exactly like those :)

  9. Photo and summary of this blog posted on The Daily Terror:
    http://www.bayyinat.org.uk/terror.htm

  10. Glenn W says:

    So it’s okay for the police to take video cameras and film joe public in public places as no one has rights there but they are now asking for their badge numbers to be removed from photo’s which I’m presuming are in 1. A public place 2. The public domain (the Internet)…
    Double standards if ever I heard it!
    Get Mark Thomas on the case lol

  11. Dick Fedorcio, Met Police blogger engagement and my part in it…

  12. I`ve been asking myself these questions a lot lately. Why does the police have the right to film us everywhere we go (see the “one nation under CCTV”) and we can’t even film in public areas. Police states are getting widely accepted and enforced. We`ve got to do something about this.

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