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          • Year: 2018
          • Today and Tomorrow: Social Media and Police Services in the Western Balkans

          • The importance of police using social media to communicate with citizens and build trust, current practices in Western Balkans, and recommentations for police to improve their social media presence and way of engaging citizens is detailed in the new BCSP publication.

        • Police services in the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia) are not substantially active on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube) and are not sufficiently exploiting the advantages of online communication such as:

          • flexibility (accessible 24/7)
          • relevance (provides a place for real-life policing examples and the exchange of experiences)
          • community building (the police can develop a supportive, stimulating community that is held by participants in high regard).


          There is a significant possibility for police services to use social media in the Western Balkans for strong community engagement and partnership with the aim of providing a crime-free and safe environment for citizens. Internet penetration in the region is 68.1% and there are 12.5 million internet users  as well as more than 8.5 million Facebook  account holders. The average Facebook consumer has more than 200 ‘friends’ , which indicates a high potential for the community engagement and sharing of information.


          The research analysed the level of police presence in the social media platforms during the period from 1 January to 31 July 2017.


          It shows that five out of seven police services in the Western Balkans that are subject to this analysis use at least one social medium as a communication tool. Four out of seven are present on Facebook and YouTube, while three have Twitter and Instagram accounts. Only the Albanian police are present on all four social networks. The Kosovo Police makes use of three networks, while the rest use two out of four. Montenegrin police and the MoI of the Federation of BiH, however, are not present on any social networks. Police services in the region predominantly use social media to share basic information, and for promotion. Efforts to engage citizens are lacking. The nature of these social networks, as two-way communication tools, is not recognised by police forces of the region.


          Communication in the 21st century has been tremendously changed by new technologies. Social media now provide a completely new communication approach, with different potential and substance. Regardless of whether or not the police want to be present on social media, police issues are being discussed online. Due to this fact, if the police do not use social media many related information can be subjected to spinning and misuse, with no possibility of reacting through the same communication channel. Even though the facts regarding internet and social media users in the Western Balkans indicate that conditions for police use of social media do exist, law enforcement agencies of the region are not sufficiently active on social networks.


          There is significant room for improvement of social media usage by police in the Western Balkans to increase effectiveness by engaging citizens, and to build trust in the police by presenting the human side through community policing. Social networks are not just another traditional media channel; they allow greater connectivity and interaction between the web users and encourage contributions and feedback from anyone who is a member of any virtual community.

           

          The publication was produced within the framework of the following projects: “Supporting Improvement of Police Communication in the Western Balkans” supported by the Geneva Centre for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), and “Western Balkans Pulse for Police Integrity and Trust” supported by the European Union (EU) through the program “Civil Society Facility”. The views and opinions presented in this publication do not represent the views of the DCAF and EU.

          About POINTPULSE

          Seven civil society organisations: Analytica from Skopje, Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP) and Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) from Belgrade, Centre for Security Studies (CSS) from Sarajevo, Institute Alternativa (IA) from Podgorica, Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM) from Tirana, and the Kosovo Centre for Security Studies (KCSS) from Pristina formed the POINTPULSE network with the aim to oversee police integrity in the Western Balkans and contribute to increasing the trust and confidence in the police services in the region by fighting police corruption and promoting police integrity. 

        • Tags: POINTPULSE, social media, police, police and media, communication
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