DIY Policing

What is the problem?

The internet, smartphones and social media have become tools for citizens to perform activities that fall within the range of police work and the work of other organizations dealing with public security.

As modern Sherlock Holmes they assist the police and go beyond. Citizens investigate crimes, identify suspects, form vigilante groups, hunt paedophiles and report on crimes. Open data sources have proved to be valuable for gathering intelligence and solving crimes and open up professional work to citizens.

The information, tools and expert knowledge have spread through the web. Social media- DIY (do-it-yourself) policing by citizens puts pressure on professional security workers that now have people and organisations from all over the world on the side lines or at the centre, doing some or all of their work.

Citizens, however, have neither the authority nor the same legal framework for their actions as police forces do. The key questions for many security planners when advancing a social media strategy therefore relate to the consequences of where and how to cooperate with citizens, where to take control and how to avoid negative ethical and legal effects.

Workshop 1

Berlin,
Germany,
January 2017

“Kodak was destroyed by Instagram. If the police want to survive DIY Policing they need to transform instead of asking the public to change.”Workshop participant

Social media empowers citizens to perform activities that fall within the range of police work and the work of other organisations dealing with public security. As modern Sherlock Holmes citizens assist the police and go beyond. They investigate crimes, identify suspects, form vigilante groups, hunt paedo- criminals and report on crimes.

The event discussed both the opportunities and challenges of DIY Policing and its relevance for public security today and in future. Participants including representatives of law enforcement agencies, the public, security planners and researchers throughout Europe gathered to exchange experiences and gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges of DIY Policing.

In identifying future solutions many participants recognized the power of social networks and crowdsourcing for improving intelligence and investigations. Others saw opportunities for “policing the police”: holding the police accountable and thereby eventually improve their legitimacy and quality of services.  All participants were convinced that online DIY Policing will change the future of policing.

 

Download the summary of the workshop including a detailed overview of the background to DIY Policing and social media together with examples of its use in practice and recommendations for future practice.

 

From the Project Blog