UPDATE: 19/2/14 – West Midlands Police today reinstated Mental Health Cop’s Twitter account. Read a statement from the force here.
A police inspector who has received plaudits for raising awareness of mental health policing issues via social media has had his Twitter account suspended by West Midlands Police after allegations of ‘misuse’.
The @mentalhealthcop Twitter account and the Mind media award-winning ‘Mental Health Cop’ blog are run by Inspector Michael Brown. Brown, who has also written guest pieces for Community Care, has received praise for using social media to educate and inform on complex issues that involve mental health policing.
In a statement released earlier today, West Midlands Police said Brown’s Twitter account had been suspended pending an investigation into “alleged misuse of a force account”. The Mental Health Cop blog has also been set to ‘private’.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: “Our [social media] policy is intended to enable officers and staff to communicate with our communities effectively to offer an insight into our work.
“It does impose some restrictions but we are, of course, an organisation that holds sensitive information so we have to ensure that there is some restraint. I also can’t imagine any organisation that would want its employees to be openly critical of it – or indeed allow it. The policy is not intended to discourage personal perspectives and I believe a human element assists with engagement.”
The move provoked a strong reaction from many tweeters, including social workers and other mental health professionals, who said Brown’s Mental Health Cop blog and tweets had helped raise awareness and understanding of complex issues.
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, tweeted:
best wishes to @MentalHealthCop, showing frontline public service at its best but also the complexity of care. Hope this is resolved soon.
— Paul Farmer (@paulfarmermind) February 15, 2014
Police blogger Nathan Constable, who has been in touch with Brown since news of the suspension broke, tweeted:
Just had contact with @mentalhealthcop who passes his thanks for the unbelievable support and kindness that has been shown.
— Nathan Constable (@NathanConstable) February 15, 2014