PCSO Sarah Giles back at work after Twitter 'ban'


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The Independent Online

A member of police staff told to stop using Twitter has returned to the micro-blogging site, days after complaints from students about the content of some posts.

Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Sarah Giles said it was "good to be back" after her Twitter exile, believed to have been prompted when University of Exeter Students' Guild complained about some of her tweets.

The officer, who regularly uses Twitter along with several colleagues to post 140-character messages covering incidents on her patch in Devon, put an abrupt end to her otherwise prolific tweeting last month.

And earlier this week, the officer, who uses the handle TopshamPolice in reference to the part of Exeter she covers, wrote: "Thank you for all your support. I was told to close the account and cease tweeting. It upset me very much and is still being discussed RT :("

She returned to Twitter last night by writing "Coooeeee!!!! I'm back!!!!", adding a link to a blog post which said she had "swapped ideas" with police bosses.

She added: "Basically I can start boring you to tears with jokes about fowl play by geese on the estuary again!

"We all have, you'll be pleased to hear, learnt from recent experiences!"

The university confirmed this week that its students' union had "raised its concerns (to police) about whether some of (PCSO Giles's) tweets were appropriate".

In one tweet two weeks ago, Ms Giles wrote: "Lots of strong coffee needed tonight :-/ follow up calls to student who threw up in taxi and victims of wing mirror bashing £exeterfreshers", the latter understood to be a reference to first-year university students in the city.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the PCSO has not been "banned" from posting updates, but has instead been offered "training" about the content of her tweets.

In a statement, a police spokesman said training would be given to the PCSO "so she can better use social media in the future as an innovative communication tool".

"There is no doubt that social media is a very quick and effective means which can have pitfalls, but we are committed to ensuring staff have the knowledge and expertise wherever possible to use it properly," he said.