You might be used to following news and updates from law enforcement agencies on Twitter and Facebook, but now West Midlands Police in the UK has made the usual move of launching a Snapchat presence. It says it’s the first force in the world to utilize the network, enabling locals to keep up with its activities via disappearing photo and video updates.
WMP is hoping to tap into Snapchat’s huge popularity with youngsters by adding its own account. “We’ve already got a massive following online and our messages are reaching half-a-million people on a daily basis,” says Keiley Gartland, from the Corporate Communications Department. “Part of this work is about connecting with younger people and helping them to feel they have a close connection with their local police force.”
“What we want is for them to have the confidence to give us a call or speak to us when they really need our help,” she adds, “and social media is a great tool for us to do that. We can share crucial updates on incidents and crime prevention tips whilst also offering a unique insight into our work.”
West Midlands Police already have an extensive presence across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Instagram, so presumably the force knows what it’s doing when it comes to social media. With the username “WestMidsPolice” officers will be sharing images from all across the various departments using the Snapchat Stories feature, where pictures are available for 24 hours.
While the Snapchat launch is intended to improve communications between the police and the public, WMP is keen to remind users that social media should not be used to report crime. In any case, the evidence would have already disappeared by the time the incident came to court.