John Brown - Communications Professional | Kingston Police and the new ‘wanted’ poster
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Kingston Police and the new ‘wanted’ poster

Kingston Police and the new ‘wanted’ poster

Earlier this afternoon Kingston Police posted this on its Twitter account:


An image of an individual wanted for questioning in relation to a number of burglaries accompanied by a letter written in a very tongue-in-cheek, perhaps (and many have suggested), irreverent way. It even had an emoji in it!

Now, I believe that there is nothing new about the police putting out comms to inform the public of a suspect they’re keen on questioning.

What is new and has ruffled some feathers is the tone and approach taken. I urge you to read the letter (click the link above or here ). In my opinion it’s clearly been crafted to raise eyebrows and gain maximum exposure on a platform that thrives on tongue-in-cheek, irreverent and sarcastic content.

The question is, is it a police line that shouldn’t have been crossed? Furthermore, has it gone to the point of suggesting that this suspect is in fact guilty without the justice system having run its course? In which case, it’s surely in breach of the process.

In my humble view, Kingston Police have not said the suspect is guilty.

They’ve suggested that there are several burglaries involving vulnerable victims they’re keen on interviewing the individual about, that they’ve made numerous attempts at contacting them and, finally, they’ve outlined key ways of contacting the force should a member of public have some information.

Granted, this information has been written in a style we’re not accustomed to from a police force, but more traditional methods of communicating (for example this from 2015) feels tired and weak for our generation.

As a comms professional I would always advise my clients to drop the corporate spiel on social media and instead plump for a more casual tone with a good dose of well-placed wit.

Basically, talk like a human being. In a pub. With your mum watching.

While I’d consider the Kingston Police approach to be ‘on the line’ of what’s appropriate I can’t help but feel this was an incredibly intelligent comms tactic.

I’m hoping to speak to the individual looking after social media for Kingston Police soon and it will be fascinating to see the response and also the result of this use of Twitter.

In the meantime, what’s your thoughts? Do you think this is a smart move or a public shaming?

I’ve been having interesting discussions with Max Tatton-Brown and Nigel Sarbutts on Twitter. Get involved in the conversation or leave your comments below.

In the words of Kingston Police, TTFN.


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