Thursday, 16 June 2011


I've so far found 63 police blogs. Some are current, some not. Some have been going/went for a number of years and some are very recent or were kept going for very short periods of time. There are a couple that have only one or two posts.

One comment made on this blog is that they are simply a replacement for the old canteen culture which is no more. It would seem that there is something in this - a lot of the blogs are used to blow off steam or vent frustrations with things like bureaucracy, management, the type of people the police come across, politicians' attitudes to the police etc. There is also evidence of the swapping of experiences and telling of tales - again things which would have been possible during breaks and canteen time when this was available.

However some types of posts and blogs cover other areas like public education (e.g. explaining kinds of incidents from the police viewpoint, the reasons why they do things the way they do and the rules and regulations governing this) as well as more strategic matters, inviting debates and essentially putting the general police views on such into the public sphere. This would not be possible without the public nature of the internet and blogs themselves. It is possible for political and public figures to access these blogs and perhaps the motivation behind them is to try to get the perspective of the police "at the coalface" over to the decision-makers?

What comes across clearly is the sense of community in this part of the blogosphere. New blogs seem to become known through others' blogrolls; if a particularly negative or abusive comment is added to a post, other readers and bloggers will take issue and often defend the blogger. Whether police-related or not, the same commenters appear on different police blogs so obviously read this genre in general.

Another point that strikes me as I read the comments is that even if one is particularly negative, the blogger and/or other readers will engage with that person and often have a conversation with them, debating the views expressed in the post and the person's negative ones. This doesn't always result in agreement all round - as often as not the replies become increasingly intemperate before one or other side stops answering; however alternatively both sides can agree to disagree. Is this because the police are used to having to keep their tempers when dealing with the public? In view of the sometimes abusive nature of these negative comments I am surprised the result is not a simple dismissal by the blogger/readers.

As with other readers, the abusive commenters (trolls) also seem to appear on lots of police blogs and it would be interesting to try to find out what their motivations are. They do not appear to have blogs of their own. However as that is not the focus for this particular research it will have to be shelved!

Some of the blogs are extremely well-written. The more cathartic posts are very moving and this is reflected in the number of comments such posts receive, almost always supportive. Is this release sufficient for the blogger or do they need/choose other forms of therapy as well as their blogs? And how is this need viewed within the police force as a whole?

In short then, the motivations can be as numerous and varied as the blogs themselves, although there are broad similarities running through many. There is the venting of frustrations, perhaps the seeking of relief from tensions or stress, the desire to educate the public and /or the politicians, the desire to bring a specific viewpoint to the attention of other police/the public, the wish to simply make thoughts public and join in this community. Some bloggers initially make comments about wishing their blogs to be made into a book - which has happened on a few occasions. Do they seek the kudos of this, the money or the outlet for creative writing abilities?

More soon.

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