What is the problem?
The concept of “everyday security” refers to the daily management of public security with the aim of preventing and responding to offences which are committed in public spaces and which threaten the security - actual or perceived - of the community in its daily life. The recent massive increase in social media use has drastically transformed people’s communication and information habits, providing authorities with new intelligence sources and platforms for communication.
These new opportunities raise numerous questions:
What ways do the data and tools available through social media influence the work of intelligence services and law enforcement agencies (LEA’s)?
How do local authorities, which are first in line of defence when it comes to community security, use social media to facilitate and enhance their local crime prevention strategies?
How can community policing initiatives supported by social media contribute to the everyday management of security?
“This workshop has motivated me to work further on the use of social media for public security.”
The recent massive increase in social media use has drastically transformed people’s communication and information habits, providing authorities with new intelligence sources and platforms for communication and engagement. These platforms could contribute to enhance the daily management of security by enabling real time interaction with citizens and by preventing and responding to offences that are committed in public spaces (virtual or real) and which threaten the security – actual or perceived – of the community in its daily life.
The aim of this workshop was to better understand how to employ social media in the improvement of everyday security by creating a common awareness and vision of its opportunities, means and threats of social media to improve everyday security.
It focussed discussions on 3 important topics:
- Social Media as a Communication & Engagement Tool: Citizens can better assist with reducing crime and general disorder by providing real-time information as well as sharing their ideas to solve community problems. It has the potential to improve the accessibility of policing services for community members, with two-way engagement being a tangible benefit for police forces and citizens alike. It can be used to improve the effectiveness, legitimacy, transparency of citizen collaboration and community participation.
- Social Media as a Monitoring Tool: Law Enforcement Authorities are harnessing the constant view of real world activity t the real-time data of social media offers. By using social media analysis to crime can be stopped before it starts through predictive policing. This data also helps to better understand criminal phenomena, crime perception and in so doing develop strategies to counter it.
- Social Media as an Investigative and Enforcement Tool: The same data flows offer a valuable resource in investigating crimes and enforcing laws. LEAs frequently use the internet in order to gather information and evidence from citizens in a further demonstration of the communication benefits these platforms provide.
The discussions also highlighted significant challenges for LEAs in using social media in their policing including the adoption of formal policies and processes to enable a single and the consistent approach to the use of modern technology. The advent of social media has created new spaces for the police to understand and police, created and increased pressure to enforce new offences, creating a need to further balance discretion with workload and resources. And there is an ongoing need to protect individuals’ data and freedoms from intrusion and misuse.
This workshop took place as a part of the “Security, Democracy & Cities” Conference (15 – 17 November).