Highlands & Islands

Northern Constabulary balances 'unfair' reports online

Ollie the collie
Image caption Uploading images of a sniffer dog at play had attracted young followers, the force said

A Scottish police force has reported using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to balance "unfair or inaccurate" media reports.

Northern Constabulary has had a presence on Twitter since November 2009 and on Facebook since last year.

In a new report, the force said it had seen an increase in traffic to its website as a result.

The force said it highlighted safety warnings online and also used the site to give its side to "unfair" reports.

Northern Constabulary told the BBC News Scotland website that 99% of its use of social media was for supporting crime prevention and distributing safety information.

A recent appeal for help tracing a missing teenager had 360 "shares" as followers of the force's Facebook page and Twitter feed spread the information.

Balancing media reports deemed to be unfair or inaccurate only formed a tiny part of Northern's social media presence, a spokeswoman said.

In the report, the force said was the first Scottish force to use social media to "inform and engage" with the public.

The bullet point "balance unfair or inaccurate media coverage" was on a list of 13 ways the force used the online channels.

The force said it had more than 3,000 followers of its Facebook page and more than 2,000 of its Twitter feed.

The report said: "Statistics also show that Twitter and Facebook are amongst the top referrers to our force website.

"This demonstrates the success of using social media channels to signpost the public to information on our website pages.

"Statistics show a huge increase in referred traffic to our website since we have been using social media sites, from 3,900 referred visits per month in 2009 to nearly 12,000 referred visits in 2011."

The force said it also used social media to support crime prevention, highlight Met Office weather warnings, explain policy, publicise campaigns.

Uploading images of a sniffer dog called Ollie at play while he was being trained at this summer's RockNess music festival had attracted younger followers, the report said.

An album of photographs of the young collie with his handler Sgt Niall MacLean were posted on the force's Facebook page in June.

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