Policewoman banned from Twitter for stereotyping ‘drunk’ students

October 3, 2012 | by | 0 Comments

A police worker who posted details of her battles with drunk students on her Twitter account has been ordered off the social media site after an official complaint.

Police Community Support Officer Sarah Giles was accused of ‘stereotyping’ by tweeting about the drunken antics of university freshers.

PCSO Giles, tweeting as @TopshamPolice, put up messages about student “mayhem” in her beat area of Exeter, Devon.

Police Community Support Officer Sarah Giles, who has been removed from Twitter by her force

Police Community Support Officer Sarah Giles, who has been removed from Twitter by her force

She often tweeted about the drinking habits of first years at Exeter University – until a complaint was made by its Student’s Guild.

In one tweet two weeks ago, PCSO 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’.

Another tweet ion September 19, said: “Off to work in an hour – more student mayhem :-)”

And the day before she tweeted: “Large group of students already spotted heading into town to tour the city’s watering holes”.

Another said: ‘2 students details taken for uni disciplinary process after trying to wheel road signs away from site in stolen trolleys”

The Twitter account in which PCSO Giles gave followers an insight into the poor behaviour of students from Exeter University

The Twitter account in which PCSO Giles gave followers an insight into the poor behaviour of students from Exeter University

PCSO Giles had nearly 1,200 online followers for her updates about everyday life on the beat – tweeting around 10,000 times.

But Exeter’s Student Guild made an official complaint to police – accusing her of stereotyping them.

Gareth Oughton, from Exeter Students’ Guild, said it contacted police to express concerns about “the reinforcement of negative stereotypes”.

He added that the guild and police worked hard to promote positive relationships and the guild felt the tweets might not present that relationship in a good light.

After advice from her senior officers PCSO Giles has now closed her Twitter account.

She tweeted: “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.”

Devon and Cornwall Police say she is not banned from posting, but had offered her “training”.

He said: ”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 where ever possible to use it properly.”

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