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"Show this thread": policing, disruption and mobilisation through Twitter. An analysis of UK law enforcement tweeting practices during the Covid-19 pandemic

Nikolovska, M; Johnson, SD; Ekblom, P; (2020) "Show this thread": policing, disruption and mobilisation through Twitter. An analysis of UK law enforcement tweeting practices during the Covid-19 pandemic. Crime Science , 9 , Article 20. 10.1186/s40163-020-00129-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Crisis and disruption are often unpredictable and can create opportunities for crime. During such times, policing may also need to meet additional challenges to handle the disruption. The use of social media by officials can be essential for crisis mitigation and crime reduction. In this paper, we study the use of Twitter for crime mitigation and reduction by UK police (and associated) agencies in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Our findings suggest that whilst most of the tweets from our sample concerned issues that were not specifically about crime, especially during the first stages of the pandemic, there was a significant increase in tweets about fraud, cybercrime and domestic abuse. There was also an increase in retweeting activity as opposed to the creation of original messages. Moreover, in terms of the impact of tweets, as measured by the rate at which they are retweeted, followers were more likely to ‘spread the word’ when the tweet was content-rich (discussed a crime specific matter and contained media), and account holders were themselves more active on Twitter. Considering the changing world we live in, criminal opportunity is likely to evolve. To help mitigate this, policy makers and researchers should consider more systematic approaches to developing social media communication strategies for the purpose of crime mitigation and reduction during disruption and change more generally. We suggest a framework for so doing.

Type: Article
Title: "Show this thread": policing, disruption and mobilisation through Twitter. An analysis of UK law enforcement tweeting practices during the Covid-19 pandemic
Location: Germany
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1186/s40163-020-00129-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1186/s40163-020-00129-2
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Keywords: Covid-19, Crime prevention, Crime reduction, Crisis communication, Disruption, Evidence-based policing, Police, Social media policy, Twitter
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Engineering Science > Dept of Security and Crime Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10114604
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