West Midlands Police suspends officer's Twitter account

A police inspector who has won awards for his work as a mental health liaison officer is being investigated for alleged misuse of his Twitter account.

West Midlands Police said Insp Michael Brown's account, @MentalHealthCop, was suspended on Friday.

"Certain aspects of the officer's communications are being investigated," a spokesman said.

Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones questioned the move and said he would raise it with the chief constable.

'Thoroughly investigated'

He tweeted that he "always thought Michael's tweets (were) really good news".

West Midlands Police said: "Recent monitoring has led to the suspension of an account operated by a response inspector whose focus was on mental health policing.

"Certain aspects of the officer's communication are currently being investigated for alleged misuse of a force account and as such it would be inappropriate for the account to continue whilst further enquiries are made.

"Any breaches of force policy are taken extremely seriously and will be thoroughly and professionally investigated."

Mr Brown, from the Sandwell Police team, won the West Midlands Police chief constable's award for his contribution as a mental health liaison officer in March 2012.

In an interview with The Guardian newspaper in the same year, Mr Brown said he "didn't envisage in a million years" his Mental Health Cop blog, for which he won a digital media award from mental health charity Mind, would achieve so many followers - estimated at about 7,000 followers at the time.

He said the blog was "by a cop interested in mental health issues, for cops who have to deal with mental health incidents".

Asst Ch Con Garry Forsyth said the force's social media policy imposes some necessary restrictions but added that he "can't imagine any organisation that would want its employees to be openly critical of it - or indeed allow it."

He said: "The policy is not intended to discourage personal perspectives and I believe a human element assists with engagement."

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