This week’s #SMXChat topic comes from Amanda Coleman, @amandacomms Head of Corporate Communications at Greater Manchester Police in Manchester, UK.

Amanda has worked in communications for the police service since 1999 and has overseen some huge changes in the way the Greater Manchester Police Service connects with people. When she started, her job was all about demands from the media and getting information to them, necessitating a broadcast style of community information. Now, social media has given policing a way to have conversations directly with local people and through this to encourage people to come forward with information or issues. In the past four years the Police Service has:

– trained more than 450 front-line officers (out of a total of about 6000) and staff to use social media to engage with communities which they do on a daily basis. Call it walking the virtual beat!

– created a social network that reaches about 500,000 people who provide information that has helped us to find missing people, wanted offenders and in tackling crime.

– developed a GMP app based on geo-location that allows us to locate wanted people, missing people and support appeals for where people are, as well as giving us local officer details and how to contact them. In 18 months we have had more than 30,000 downloads.

– provided people with insight into policing through Twitterchats, webcasts, ridealongs and information all provided through social media. We have also run two 24 hour tweet initiatives in 2010 and 2014, putting out details of all the calls for help received per day.

– introduced a community reporter initiative where local people go on patrol with officers and then post about their experiences. They are completely independent and use a range of social networks.

– begun finalising an app that allows citizens to become a police officer to try to deal with domestic abuse issues. They make the decisions. The aim is for people to understand the challenges police officers face and how they can help to tackle domestic abuse.

Greater Manchester Police Service uses Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and many others including Instagram, Audioboom, Storify etc. Basically anything that will help us to get messages across and start conversations

Q1) How can we support and empower staff to use social media?

Q2) Who should be developing creative content for social networks?

Q3) How can we encourage leadership to allow some risks to be taken?

Q4) Where does the power in social media development lie in organisations, and where should it be based?

Q5) How do we teach people to protect themselves when online?

Q6) How can law enforcement reassure citizens of their reasons for going social? Hint: It’s more than snooping.

Image credit: Amanda Coleman

Interested in more from Amanda? Check out her blog at