RegulationWorkspace

Drop In Council Workers Suspended For Viewing Porn

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

Follow on: Google +
Google + Linkedin Subscribe to our newsletter Write a comment

A Freedom of Information request by the BBC found 11 council staff were suspended last year for pornography-related infractions

Eleven council workers across the UK were suspended last year for accessing pornographic websites.

The 11 cases were amongst the more than 51 workers suspended for breaking social media rules, according to FoI requests made by BBC Radio 5 Live.

porn

More than 51 staff were suspended, with a minority later dismissed or resigning, according to responses by 169 local councils, the BBC found. Some councils didn’t specify how many employees had been suspended, the BBC said.

The responses indicated 114 council staff were issued warnings about breaching social media guidelines in 2015, down 4 percent on the previous year, while suspensions were up 19 percent on 2014, the BBC said.

The 11 pornography-related offences represented a 27 percent drop on the previous year. In one case Orkney Council indicated the incident had led to a criminal investigation, while another involved an individual storing “grossly offensive material” on council systems.

Some cases involved use of Facebook, including two teachers suspended in East Riding for befriending students on the social network, a Swindon Borough Council who made threatening comments to a colleague, and a Cheshire West and Chester Council worker who posted rude messages about the public on Facebook while on duty.

‘Robust’ action

Other cases included an East Renfrewshire Council employee suspended for inappropriate use of the council’s official Twitter account, two Leeds Council employees suspended over racial comments made online, and an Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council worker suspended for posting an inappropriate photo on an unnamed site.

Luton Borough Council, Norfolk County Council and Newport City Council said they had dismissed workers following suspensions, while Milton Keynes Council said a suspended worker had opted to resign.

The figures show councils “deal robustly” with unacceptable social media use, according to the Local Government Association.

“Councils are clear that while some personal use of social media at work is acceptable, it must be reasonable and appropriate in terms of both the time spent and the content,” the association stated. “The vast majority of council employees abide by that.”

The BBC contacted 218 councils and received 169 responses, with twenty-two refusing to divulge the information and 27 failing to reply.

The figures are not definitive as some councils used the calendar year while others based their figures upon the fiscal year beginning in April, and not all councils included school staff in their responses.

Do you know all about public sector IT – the triumph and the tragedy? Take our quiz!