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Council boss suspended over Facebook posts

Stuart Spear12/02/2014 - 12.00

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Beware when using social media
Beware when using social media

The head of Milton Keynes regulatory services has been suspended following allegations that she posted gloating messages concerning individuals that the council had successfully prosecuted on her Facebook page. 

Karen Ford, the head of the council’s regulatory unit, has been accused of posting the messages on her Facebook page about individuals that she prosecuted during her time as head of trading standards.
   
Ms Ford was head of trading standards until April 2012 after which she was made head of regulatory services.

The messages allegedly gloat about the size of the fine handed out to one individual along with the fact that they had to pay out under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Allegedly pejorative comments were also made about the individual who was prosecuted.

Milton Keynes Council is saying nothing about the incident other than that Ms Ford has been suspended, pending an investigation. ‘We can confirm that she has been suspended but that is for precautionary not disciplinary reasons and we are investigating the allegations made,’ said a Milton Keynes spokesperson.

Ms Ford is not currently a member of the Trading Standards Institute having resigned her membership two years ago.

The incident is being seen as a salutary lesson for enforcement officers and their use of social media. The CIEH has distributed advice to its members through its branch network on the use social media. 

The CIEH has warned members that the internet including media such as facebook and Linkedin are public forums and so users should assume that posts could be potentially read by anyone that could be impacted by comments regardless of how obscure or secure the site you are using may appear.

The advice also warns: ‘If you speak about others, make sure what you say is factual and that it does not disparage that party. Avoid arguments. Brawls may earn website traffic, but nobody wins in the end. Don’t try to settle scores or goad competitors or others into inflammatory debates. Make sure what you are saying is factually correct.’

The CIEH is planning to publish updated advice in the near future.  


 

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