Gordon Scobbie

Welcome to my first blogpost for ConnectedCOPS. I am the Deputy Chief Constable of Tayside police in Scotland and I will be blogging here regularly on all things social media and digital engagement. As with most blogs, the views expressed are my thoughts and not necessarily those of Tayside Police.

So what do I have to say and why me? Well, I lead for UK policing on all things connected to social media and have a particular interest in how we can use the web to enhance our engagement with communities. I’ve been interested in this work for a little over 2 years and have been working hard to effect change at the strategic level in the police service in this area. I have been supported by a number of key individuals in the UK, such as Nick Keane and Justin Partridge, and we have slowly changed the mindset of a number of strategic leaders in the service…..but there is still much to do!!

I met Lauri Stevens at a ‘Twitter’ event some 2 years ago and have worked with her since. She has been a great help in terms of connecting people within the policing and law enforcement arenas and continues to challenge and develop my thinking in this space. I am really looking forward to speaking at the SMILE Conference in Chicago in May at Lauri’s invitation.

At the conference, I hope to say something about the journey UK policing has been on in terms of social media and the use of the web 2.0, from a standing start to widespread but uncoordinated use within policing. I will chart how the use of technology has challenged existing ways of working, both internally and externally, and how we might further exploit the use of technology as budgets and forces shrink in size and we need to think differently about how certain services can be delivered in the future.

Those of you who follow UK politics might be aware of the UK Prime Ministers vision of the ‘Big Society’ to replace Big Government. Whilst this idea has often been difficult to articulate there is certainly a movement towards greater involvement of the public in the design and delivery of public services (co production) and of increasing interest in the role of social enterprise and social entrepreneurs. The police and others in the public sector have an opportunity to use the web and social media to tap into this movement and act more as facilitators rather than service providers to build on the huge capacity that already exists within communities themselves. This requires a shift in the mindset away from controlling everything to working in a more collaborative way with partners and the public. This is exactly the kind of mindset which already exists within the online community and is often the reason why the police find it difficult to fully engage, since traditionally they are more comfortable in a command and control environment which is much more precise and less fluid. The challenge as I see it for police leadership is to be more at ease with ambiguity and collaborative way of working so we can truly maximise the potential of the new and emerging dynamics of community engagement, service design and service delivery.

On Friday 18th March I have set up a strategic visioning day for the police service on the future impact of the web and social media. This is being hosted and facilitated by Google at their London HQ. This will be attended by a small select group of strategic thinkers and I am really looking forward to developing fresh ideas and strategies for the service in this fast moving area.

I will update you on the outcome of this event in my next ConnectedCOPS blogpost.