Lancashire Police defend use of meme format to report crime despite social media criticism
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The @LancsPolice Twitter account posted two pictures on Tuesday evening to X – formerly known as Twitter – the first showing convicted criminal Samuel Walmsley holding a wad of cash and the second his mugshot.
The caption read “How it started… How it’s going”, a popular format social media users employ to show how things have changed.
Beneath the post was a series of replies from Lancashire Police with further details, including that Samuel Walmsley was “one of 14 men jailed for nearly 50 years for his role in crime conspiracies in Great Harwood”.
Walmsley was charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to steal a motor vehicle, and was jailed for two years and four months.
The post earned more than 12 million views in less than 24 hours, picking up tens of thousands of likes and interactions.
The police account also responded to some replies by asking people to fill in a social media survey to find out “what you want and need from us through social media”.
However, some found the use of a meme format to be distasteful given the context.
One social media user wrote: “Might be an unpopular opinion but I feel like the police fundamentally shouldn’t be posting memes like this regardless of what they’ve done.”
Another said: “This sort of mocking, joking tweets is disgraceful. It condescends to and insults the victims of crime, is unseemly celebratory, and acts like policing is all one big jolly jape.”
Meanwhile, another asked: “What kind of society do we live in when official police accounts are posting memes and trying to go viral?”
A statement from Lancashire Police given to the PA news agency defended the account’s reporting tactics, however, confirming it would “continue to engage with people in this way”.
The statement read: “The reaction to this post has been overwhelmingly positive both online – with more than 71k likes – and in the local community who were directly affected by this criminal activity.
“We will continue to engage with people in this way to let them know about the work we are doing to tackle serious and organised crime and to keep our communities safe.
“The public can also help inform the way we engage with our communities online by completing our social media survey to tell us what they want to see on our channels: www.police.uk/pu/notices/2023/survey/social-media-survey”.