A number of police officers and support staff are being investigated over malicious and inappropriate Twitter use.
Several accounts claiming to be active police officers with the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) are under investigation due to their alleged involvement in bigoted online abuse and trolling.
RTÉ reported that a private cybersecurity firm has been involved in the year-long inquiry, helping to trace individuals running several Twitter accounts. The PSNI confirmed that it is investigating the activity surrounding these accounts, purportedly manned by police officers.
‘I can confirm that PSNI is examining material posted on personal social media accounts by persons who may be serving police officers’
– MARK HAMILTON
In a statement, the PSNI said: “The PSNI will not accept any racist, sectarian, sexist or homophobic behaviour from any of our staff. We would appeal to anyone who has evidence of these matters to report them to us or to the office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.”
Divisive and bigoted remarks
According to The Irish News, a Twitter profile that alluded to being a member of the PSNI had recently been removed from the site. The account was known as ‘DonYeeoo’ and, although it had described itself as a parody, some questions arose surrounding the content of several tweets.
One particular tweet, which followed an incident where an officer was hit by a car, said: “That’s two incidents where police officers had the right to empty bullets into the car and didn’t.”
It also tweeted several divisive remarks about the LGBTQ community, the pro-choice movement and racist statements on the account. Explicit photographs were allegedly posted from inside a police vehicle.
A source informed RTÉ that the individual behind the ‘DonYeeoo’ account had been using a VPN, but had “started getting sloppy. Location pictures lead to his downfall.”
Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton told The Guardian: “I can confirm that PSNI is examining material posted on personal social media accounts by persons who may be serving police officers.
“In response, [the] PSNI professional standards department has instigated disciplinary proceedings against one individual who has been identified as a serving officer. The review of the material is ongoing at this stage.”
The six PSNI officers under investigation are all said to be located in the greater Belfast area.