Leicester academic to speak on police use of social media

Posted by pt91 at Mar 05, 2012 09:47 AM |
Focus on police public engagement at policy seminar on 6 March

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 5 March 2012

A University of Leicester expert on politics and new media has been asked to speak at the Global MSC Security seminar on CCTV Budget Cuts and the Riots on Tuesday 6th March.

Dr Paul Reilly, of the University’s Department of Media and Communication, will be speaking on use of social media by UK Police to provide real-time information during civil unrest, in the wake of the disturbances of August 2011. He will also discuss how sites such as Facebook and Twitter can be used to support the public engagement strategies of UK Police forces.

Dr Reilly’s research focuses on issues surrounding the use of social media during periods of social unrest.  He has studied how people responded to the video footage of rioting in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol, which emerged on the video-sharing website Youtube. He has also examined community worker perspectives on the use of social media to organise so-called ‘recreational rioting’ in contested areas of Belfast.

Dr Reilly commented: “Social media did not cause the civil unrest seen in a number of English cities in August 2011. Nevertheless, it is clear that sites such as Twitter and instant messaging services such as BBM enabled this violence to go viral, making it extremely difficult for UK Police forces to contain the disorder.

“There were, however, many examples of good police practice on social media that emerged from the riots, such as the use of these sites to quell rumours and provide accurate information to local residents in affected areas. Subsequently, there has been an intensification of police engagement with social media in the United Kingdom. However, it perhaps should be viewed as a supplementary channel of communication rather than a replacement for traditional modes of police engagement with the public.”

More information on the Global MSC Security Seminar on 6th March is available on the website:


Notes to Editors: The website giving more information about the Westminster e-Forum is below.   Further details are available from Dr Paul Reilly, tel 0116 252 2829, email pr93@leicester.ac.uk

Share this page: