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Police and Social Media in England and Wales: Exploring police communications and image work in the digital society

Cullen, Arron ORCID: 2022. Police and Social Media in England and Wales: Exploring police communications and image work in the digital society. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Established news organisations have covered crime and law enforcement news for centuries. As a result, it should come as no surprise that the media is frequently the source from which the public learns the most about police activity in their communities. The purpose of this thesis is to investigate police social media activities and organisational structures to acquire a better understanding of how the police present themselves on digital platforms. Contributions to the field of police communications, specifically to the rapidly expanding field of police and social media studies, are made throughout this thesis. The conceptual framework of this research draws upon police image work, elements of community policing, and the digital society we live in. Through a pragmatic mixed methods approach, three empirical studies come together to contribute knowledge that does not currently exist regarding police forces in England and Wales. Data analysed stems from the Twitter platform, interviews with communication experts, and a national survey of police forces. The research argues that police communications have gone through significant changes over the past decade, shifting from professionalisation to the digitalisation of police image work. The findings indicate that police communications have expanded and provide new opportunities to show the human side of policing through creative content. While police forces continue to be cautious, the study outcomes indicate that digital channels are vital for operational policing and enhancing customer service-related duties. However, opportunities for interactions within digital communities remain an area for development. Overall, this thesis provides an exploratory investigation into police social media activities, contributing to the existing knowledge base by demonstrating why digital society has changed how police forces carry out image work and community policing practices.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 January 2023
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2024 02:17

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