Saturday, 9 April 2016

Some longer notes on the #EPtwitterSummit idea

For the active Essex Police Officers on Twitter, I've a theory that it's possible to reach 3,000 followers or 2% of the Community each officer serves.

This is my purpose for creating the #EPtwitterSummit and yours too if you wish to get involved.

I've helped only a handful of the officers in Essex - all I know, I could do a whole lot more if I'm allowed to try and get a conversation going.

Perhaps it's just the right time to put this idea into practice, what with the new Community Policing Teams having just been announced? You can read my feedback at a previous post (8 Apr 16).

Let me make one thing very clear - I'm not going out to pester those officers on twitter and make them tweet - that's something they must feel a need and a passion for.

If they've taken the first step to say, Hey I'll give it a go that's a  great start. If they've followed that up with some good tweets and got some followers and discussions, then brilliant. And if they are inspired enough to want to get better, with a little extra help - then no one could ask for more.

I've also seen a few established tweeting officers post on how they've not been that active and want to give it another go. And I've already seen a few officers express a desire to get better and make more interesting tweets.

The slide above came out of a twitter thread with a few officers (like @PcSiPhillips, @EssexChiefInsp Leigh Norris and @SInspVanZanten).

On making the announcement tweet, I posted, Ideas now open for the #EPtwitterSummit - this may work and it may not, but hey let's give it a go, ideas welcome ..

Even the best ideas can fall flat very fast and that's what the three options are all about.

1, Meet in Person - this is very hard to do for just two people let alone a larger group. It costs time and travel. And in my view is very ineffective. [most of my meetings these days are face to face video calls to the US, Canada and a few other places, rarely in the UK]. Sure it's nice to sit in the same room and drink coffee, but it's old school.

2, Meet in a group video call. In the age of the internet with quad core processors and wifi everywhere, this option is very easy and efficient. I use where I can fill the room with a 100 peope on video and as it's a unified system, you can join by dialling a UK landline number to listen in and talk too. To state the obvious, this is very efficient while cutting out all travel time.

3, Text chat on Twitter. This method of a discussion using an agreed hashtag has been around for ten years, it's so outdated. But I accept it's still used today and mildly efficient when you have no access to realtime audio or video. An example is the #wecops tag that's used every week. [If I was running #wecops it would be a Live at YouTube video panel discussion talking about and field questions from user's tweets.

One important factor, to survey how everyone uses twitter whether that's by desktop, tablet or mobile. And if mobile whether Android or iOS.

Which leads to how the tweets and discussion can be as animated as possible:
  • 2d - text, photo or a gif 
  • 3d - audio and video
  • 4d - Live audio and video
I see twitter as just the tip of the iceberg to what a follower can potentially receive. Anything you tweet can have a link to something else. I'm delighted to see so many officers giving video a try. Yet there are still too many barriers between the tweeter and the audience.

If you are in any doubt, just imagine standing face to face with someone in the street or sat across a table - would would you say to them and how would you say it? One recent example was the Live at Facebook video series from Kerry Blakeman from West Mids Police. Very natural and informal discussions, but all with an objective in mind (post 10 Mar 16).

On 25 April 2016, the next #SMILEcon will be held in Alexandria, Virginia. There is a session on the use of video and live video (6pm UK time, watch here). On the panel will be Supt Kerry Blakeman and PC Mark Walsh VineCop from the UK (tweet and slide).

I sent a quote, it read:
We now have in 2016, technology that far exceeds people's ability to understand and therefore use it effectively - that's not just education, but playing to 'personalities, education and exploiting your strengths

About the 3,000 and the 2% ..

There are four officers on twitter who have more than 3,000 followers 9as 9 April 2016):
  1. @EssexChiefInsp ..  5.753 .. Grays 160k = 3.6%
  2. @EPAdamPipe     ..  4,801 .. Essex, UK 1.7m = 0.3%
  3. @PcAlanConran   ..  3,059 .. Chelmsford 170k = 1.8%
  4. @PcSiPhillips       ..  3,014 .. Thurrock 160k =  1.9%

There are another 24 officers with over 1,000 followers. The way I see it, the more followers you have, the more chance you have on getting your message out. Any social media relies on sharing, so if you get shared by someone with a ton of followers so much the better.

To explain the data above, and this is very loose data, we have Grays, essex with a population of 160,000 which means a follower number of 5,753/160,000 = 3.6%. And so on.

If I had a wish it would be to get some officers like @DetSuptHooper to the necessary level. Based on the Borough of Basildon having a population of 180,000, 2% would equal 3,600.

Harlow (with a population of 85,000, 2% being 1,700), is another area I would like to support.There are quite a few hard working tweeters in that area. To name just a few, we have:
What's the best way to get these followers? I have no way of knowing for sure what help Essex Police officers receive or how much time they have to tweet. What I do know - I'm available to help.

I also have no real idea on what opinions in the way of comments that are sent to each and every officer. In many ways, that's the whole reason for the #EPtwitterSummit idea. An equal footing for everyone to gain something ..

The News .. One fascinating area is how an officer tweet or photo very much gets reported in the press.

PC Alan Conran has about 50 results in the Essex Chronicle (with 26 stories). Insp Paul Maleary even has his own column in the Harlow Star called On the Beat (22 Stories).

And what seems to the fastest and preferred method for reporters - Twitter Direct Messages. I'm happy to debate this point without pointing fingers to or from any reporters or officers. If you want to find out for yourself just visit Cafe Nero in Chelmsford High Street every Thursday morning where you can find an essex Chronicle reporter.

I will get this posted and tweeted ...

Friday, 8 April 2016

Feedback on the new Essex Police Community Policing Team Website Pages

After reading a few tweets earlier in the week and getting an ECM (Essex Community Messaging) alert an hour ago, here's my feedback.

Website Feedback

1, From the main page called Community Policing (at: -- is this a final public page? In other words, I thought Essex Policing may have been launching a brand new interactive website?

2, From main page we have, Community policing is about local policing, listening to your concerns ...  Details on how to contact the CPT covering your area can be found on the associated District Command page. Yet all of those 14 pages have NO contact details, albeit a postal address. [ I do not class clicking the doitonline button as contacting a local team]

3, There are nine named officers on those 14 pages/10 teams that have accounts on twitter (Hooper, Carrington, Cook, Maleary, Ray, Anslow, Finch, Norris and Argent) - yet only one officer mentions twitter [@DetSuptHooper].

4, In addition, there are at least 113 officer twitter accounts, many of those are officers providing realtime updates in CPTs -- In my opinion, these accounts need to be added to the CPT webpages. For example in Chelmsford: Insp Eliot, PC Conran and SC Barlow. [I have a twitter list for Chelmsford, here are 21 members, of course many of those are at HQ etc..]

5, From a public standpoint, if I went to a local page like Braintree, I would expect to see a snapshot of everything that area has to offer, and as realtime as possible. I accept the 'Braintree page' may not be the place -- but the public need to see that somewhere. For example, there are many Braintree Specials who work very hard to tweet updates (like SInsp Van Zanten).

6, There is no mention of any PCSOs - will this be listed, maybe next month when more os known about the changes?

ECM and Press release Feedback

A copy of the ECM  I received is here and an example of a press article is here. There are many overlapping sentences.

From the text: community safety hubs with partner organisations ...  talk and listen to communities 
 and two-way flow of information -- I am particularly looking at how Essex Police get realtime updates out to the public.

From what I have seen, the public trust an officer who they have direct contact with and can contact easily. There are many examples on twitter.

Only last night I was reading an eBook on my laptop. I stopped, checked twitter read about how Iona Sutherland (Comms Officer with EP) was spending the night up in the air with NPAS Boreham and in that instant heard the helicopter overheard. I tweeted and she responded ten mins later - and agreed, definitely us overhead around then! πŸ‘πŸΌπŸ˜Š

This is what I mean about realtime.


An suitable endpoint for me, is getting the 113 Essex Police Officers on twitter with 1,000s of followers and providing realtime text, photo and video updates to the communities they serve.

I've supported UK Police and other forces like Toronto for five years. Essex is where I grew up and Chelmsford the place I have most memories.

My next post is about an idea called #EPtwitterSummit ..

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

PC Alan Conran in his own words and Essex Police Officers on Twitter 4 Jan to 14 March 2016

This is short post based on some public observations on Twitter followers for 113 Essex Police UK Officers on twitter.

I've had a spreadsheet running with the last full update of twitter followers taken on 4 Jan 2016. I've gathered some data on 14 March 2016 - 70 data apart.

Even after five years of following police on social media, I still ask myself the question, What's the point of police officers being on twitter?

For someone who has no clue, I give this reply..
Twitter is a free and fast realtime messaging service that allows a police officer to provide a volley of instant public updates to each other and to the public they serve. It gives those officers who choose to use it, an immediate and powerful weapon to keep the community informed and safe at a time when they need it most and when other areas are slow to react. 
And by other areas, I mean mainstream media like newspapers, radio, TV and even their own police force press and communications office. It takes away the middleman in all this and just takes the officer's eyes and ears and sends that immediately to the public twitter stream in the form of text, photo or video - all for free and all from the officer's mobile in their pocket.

The lead slide for this post shows 113 essex police officer twitter accounts sorted from most to least followers. The blue bars show the amount of followers gained or lost in the past 70 days.

I consider followers to be the benchmark of importance on twitter as that's an indicator of who may read your messages. I would say if a user has 100 followers, then a 1% read rate may be usual. On a terrific day, 10%.  These are very general statements - only way to tell for sure, go look in your own (impressions and engagements).

Let's say there are around 3,606 Essex Police officers (ref) and with 113 on twitter, that's approx 3%. This is worth bearing in mind when we talk about Social Policing on the Internet. The main Essex Police UK twitter account has 122,000 followers in a population of 1.7 million is Essex, again 7%.

Twitter in my view, should be a place where officers want to be there and want to engage with the public. And most importantly, to be allowed to use their own creativity and imagination to align seamlessly with their own set of followers.

This makes twitter only a part of what is possible to engage with the public and issue timely messages. I class a timely message in three areas: 1, Official and Urgent 2, General awareness and 3, Banter. 

Other examples are face to face word of mouth, community meetings,  posters on a noticeboard, advertisements on buses, print newspaper, a force website, facebook or youtube.

Of those 113 Officers on twitter, some are absolutely flying. In the last 70 days:

  • PC Alan Conran has gained 1,477 followers, joined twitter: 9 Sept 2015
  • Sc Katy Barlow has gained 946 followers, joined twitter: 3 Aug 2015
  • Insp Nick Eliot has gained 564 followers, joined twitter: 29 Sept 2015
  • Essex Roads Policing has gained 452 followers, joined twitter: 23 July 2013
  • SSgt Mike Swinerd has gained 380 followers, joined twitter: 22 Dec 2015

I'm delighted to devote the rest of this post to PC Alan Conran in his own words on what it means to be on Twitter..

follow @PcAlanConran
For me it's about letting the public get an insight into what the police are actually dealing with these days.

The beauty of it - it takes less than thirty seconds to compose and send a tweet on the way to, at or when an incident has been resolved.

I've quickly learnt that I'm able to reach a wider audience with a quick picture taken 'on the ground' as it catches the eye and indeed the eye of the local press agencies. Some of the tweets I've sent have in turn been picked up by the national press.

I'm in the position now where I'm trusted in the community with people coming to me as a point of contact with any concerns or information they have.

I do see social media as the new neighbourhood policing as it's a medium people feel comfortable in using and if the police are there also it helps to give the public a face that they can relate to. I'm still out there doing my job and now the public can see that.

I remember when I joined the police force being told that it's no use walking up and down streets with a yellow jacket on. People won't necessarily see you and they won't necessarily feel reassured that you're there doing what you do day in day out.

However, if you walk the same route and take the time to say Hello to people that minute interaction goes a long way.

Twitter is only different to me putting on that yellow jacket and my custodian helmet and walking through the area saying hello to everyone I see, in that more people are able to see me out there and hopefully they feel reassured by that.

PC Alan Conran
15 March 2016

PC Alan Conran has over 50 articles at the Essex Chronicle.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Name change as epLdc evolves into the long term

This project started three months ago in response to how Essex Police was changing and how that may effect the people in Essex.

From today, I've dropped the words Essex Police and Live from the website and twitter name to focus on the five core elements and called everything epLdc.

I've carefully chosen a neutral banner - in this an almost clear sky and a tranquil still water that reminds me of sitting on a river bank while contemplating the world. A few year's ago I called this Blue Sky Thinking ..  

That means now becomes - it was also not really the intention to ever be on twitter, that was an extension of where active social officers live - tweeting from mobile on the move.

I'm also looking for more freedom to post about wider issues in the community and how an Analogue something progresses to Digital everything.

Like everyone in Essex, I was hoping for much better job news concerning PCSOs. In my view, twitter is the perfect place to get a fast message out to a community. 

Yet, with a reduction in PCSOs from 250 to 90 meaning a loss of 160 jobs, we're all in some holding pattern until April 2016.

As of today, 22 of the 108 Essex Police Twitter accounts are PCSOs that's 20%. They tweet fantastically  -  with Brentwood having two awesome accounts: @PCSOMatGrimwood and @PCSOSarahRaison (both with over a 1,000 followers).

From my other work with UK and Toronto Police, I've helped a lot with Live Video - yet in Essex I've heard nothing at all about any interest to hold local community meetings on video and reach a wider audience (of course while still having the public welcome in the room). The best example is the last Essex Police Challenge (12 Nov 15), but that only happens once a quarter.

In Summing up, there's a lot of social game play going on. And that's why I'm taking the long view to get to the bottom of it all. 

One example is how people and Orgs still do the face to face meeting - when in reality it's just not that efficient. The Internet and group video calling makes that so fast and easy. 

And I've said a thousand times how in 2016 is even easier than before to make this happen, often using just a mobile. 

I see my role in this like an archeologist scratching away at something the size of a thumbnail I found in the dirt - not knowing if a few bones may lead to a tyrannosaurus rex. And that's just the challenge..  

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Essex Police Twitter Account follower change 4 to 14 Jan 16

slide one
This post is about twitter followers numbers and growth in the last ten days.

And when you see the results, we can ask some deep questions - mostly of PC Alan Conran who's just added 250 followers.

The average follower growth is 13 for all accounts. Therefore, PC Alan has grown at 19 times the average.

Slide One shows six labelled accounts, those who've added over fifty followers.
slide two

From all 105 accounts, we can see a percentage
change where the average growth is 2.91%

This slide is a little ambiguous as percentage does not reflect total followers.

In this case, it's used to illustrate how SC Mike Swinerd has a new account that is growing at a very fast rate. This is also true of PC Josh Haase and PC Alan Conran.

You can read the data set here.

In my opinion, other accounts could benefit from learning how an office like PC Conran makes this happen. If you have not seen already, the local newspaper is usually fast to publish PC Conran's tweets.

It's also good to see a few embedded tweets and a twitter handle mention - this builds trust. There are many examples from the Essex Chronicle (try this search) or today's Wood Street Armed Robbery story.

I use twitter to stay up to date with emerging local news. I find officer tweets far more reliable, in realtime, than the Essex Police UK twitter account.

And when I saw there were no tweets or facebook posts for seventeen hours (despite a stabbing and a knife point robbery), I tweeted the Chief Constable with a suggestion:

This post is part data, part discussion. In other parts of the world, there are PIOs (Public Information Officers). One example is Trooper Ben from Kansas Highway Patrol. I will him tell you what he does and how he does it.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Essex Police Senior Information and Advice Event at Springfield Parish Centre

Essex Police and some local partnerships are holding a Senior Information and Advice Event.

This will be held at Springfield Parish Centre, St. Augustine's Way, Off Beardsley Drive, Springfield, Chelmsford, CM1 6GX.

This will be held on Thursday 28th January 2016 from 10.00 to 12.00.

Monday, 4 January 2016

New Year's Twitter Follower Survey for 104 accounts

From the 104 Essex Police twitter accounts, 20 of them have more than 1,000 followers and 8 of them have more followers than the Chief Constable (1,560).

I'm sure the Chief and Deputy Chief would de delighted to see all accounts have thousands of followers..

Friday, 1 January 2016

Essex Police Live Digital Community

In this post, you'll learn about the five areas and the interconnectivity between them.

I'll provide a short answer and where to look more in depth.

This post is long at 3,822 words. It may take you half an hour to read it - but that's fine as it's really here in public to aid my thinking about the topic.

I will cut it up into bite sized chunks and repost where I can. Let's be fair - if anyone looks at an area with a few million people in it - you would expect it to be book length.

To make a start..

All areas whether Essex, Police, Live, Digital or Community are created equal.

In this model, we adopt the network approach. Usually, with the industrial model, organisations create a hub as the centre with spokes radiating outwards.

As a teacher in a school, this is what I experienced, a few line managers then a Head Teacher and a board of governors.

Essex Police