Social media monitoring policies

Eric King made this Freedom of Information request to Merseyside Police

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Merseyside Police,

In a recent BBC news article it was revealed by Match Commander Ch Supt Jon Ward that Merseyside police officers "had been monitoring social networking sites such as Twitter".

I respectfully request answers to the following:

1) When are the police permitted to collecting information through
social-networking websites and what procedures must the police follow in
order to do so?

2) When are police officers permitted to use “fake identities” to
“trick” social-networking website users into accepting a police officer as a friend or otherwise provide information to the police.

3) How is information collected from social-networking websites by
the police retained in police databases, for how long, and is it
shared with other government agencies?

Please also provide me with any policy guidance, documentation or presentations on police use of social media for investigative purposes.

Yours faithfully,

Eric King

Merseyside Police

Dear Mr King,

Reference No : DJ 024/12 (please quote in all correspondence)

Thank you for your application for information dated 28/01/2012, received by Merseyside Police on 30/01/2012. I note
that your are seeking information relating to:

(paraphrased) : Monitoring of social media sites.

Your request will be dealt with under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and will now be considered.
You will receive a response within the statutory time-scale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to the
information not being exempt nor containing a reference to a third party. In the event that we are not able to
achieve this deadline you will be informed at the earliest opportunity and given a revised time-scale.

There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of the information you have requested. If this
is the case you will be informed and the 20 working day time scale will be suspended until we receive payment from

Some requests may also require either full or partial transfer to another public authority in order to answer your
query in the fullest possible way. Again, you will be informed if this is the case.

Yours faithfully,

D. Jackson
Disclosure Analyst
Merseyside Police
Information Bureau
Disclosure Unit
PO Box 59,
Fax: 0151 777 7099
Email : [Merseyside Police request email]

This email and any files transmitted with it are confidential and intended
solely for the use of the individual or entity to whom they are addressed.

If you have received this email in error please notify the sender as soon
as possible.

This footnote confirms that all reasonable steps have been taken to
ensure that this email message has been swept for the presence of
computer viruses.

The views expressed in this communication may not necessarily be the
views of Merseyside Police.

All communications, including telephone calls and electronic messages to
and from Merseyside Police may be subject to monitoring and recording.

Merseyside Police

1 Attachment

Dear Mr. King,
Response - FOIA Application - DJ 024/12 (please quote in all

I write in connection with your request for information dated, 28/01/2012,
which was received by Merseyside Police on 30/01/2012. I note that you seek
access to the following information:

(paraphrased) : Information in relation to police use of Twitter.

Following receipt for your request searches were conducted within the
Merseyside Police to locate information relevant to your request. I can
confirm that the information relating to the topics that you requested is
held by Merseyside Police.

Extent of searches to locate information.

To locate the information relevant to your request, searches were conducted
in Information Bureau, Communications and Marketing, and E, BCU records.

Result of searches.

The searches located some information relevant to your request.


I have today been authorised by the senior decision maker in this case, Mr.
G.T. Thomas, Disclosure Manager to:

partly exempt information related to your requests numbered three pursuant
to the provisions of section 21 Freedom of Information Act 2000;
and fully exempt information related to your requests numbered one and two,
pursuant to the provisions of section 8 Freedom of Information Act 2000;as
the request does not meet the requirement of section 8(1)(c). Please see
the attached response table for fuller information.

Your request for information, in relation to the exempt information and
applications one and two, have been considered and the Force is not obliged
to supply the information that you have requested.

Section 17, Freedom of Information Act, 2000, requires Merseyside Police,
when refusing to provide such information (because the information is
exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice which:
(a) states that fact,
(b) specifies the exemption(s) in question and
(c) states (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption

In respect of all the requests above, under the duty in section 16 of the
Act, the duty to be helpful, I have provided information, shown as
additional information in the response table, which I believe will be of
assistance to you.

Please find attached information relating to your request in the schedule

Making a complaint or an appeal

Your attention is drawn to the sheet attached below which details your
rights of complaint.

Should you have any further inquiries concerning this matter, please write
or e-mail me, on the below address, quoting the reference number above.

Yours faithfully

D Jackson
Disclosure Analyst
Merseyside Police
Information Bureau
Information Access Unit
Fax: 0151 777 7099
E-mail: [Merseyside Police request email]

Schedule(s) of disclosed information:

(See attached file: Response Table DJ 024-12(DJAN-8QZHW7).doc)

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