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Police social media accounts management costing tens of thousands of pounds and outsourced to company based in Birmingham

TWO police forces are paying a company tens of thousands of pounds for software to manage their social media accounts.

Dyfed-Powys Police and Gwent Police have jointly procured Orlo, based in Birmingham, to provide a management platform for the forces’s various social media accounts.

The value of the year-long Dyfed-Powys Police contract is £70,080 – with the option of a year’s extension – and Gwent Police’s is £54,750. Both sums exclude VAT.

Procured through public sector portal Sell2Wales, the job description for potential bidders explained that social media was increasingly used by the public to engage with police.

And with more and more police social media accounts in operation, it said it was vital that the forces mitigated “this significant reputational risk” through an appropriate management platform to monitor and help control content.

A Dyfed-Powys Police spokesman said it connected with and listened to the public via social media. Its Twitter and Facebook accounts have a combined following of more than 120,000 people.

“Maximising the use of social media in policing and its effectiveness, both using corporate accounts and at a local team level needs the right tools,” said the force spokesman.

“Orlo is a social media management tool which all users of force social media accounts will use to access, publish, schedule, and monitor social media content and contact, in a safe, secure way.”

He added that upcoming legislative changes to an electronic communications code meant social media would need to be monitored for emergency contact to the same standards as emergency calls are currently.

He said this required effective software to combine contact across multiple social media channels “in a safe, secure, and ‘auditable’ way”.

Some Dyfed-Powys Police communication staff monitor social media as part of their role, and the implementation of the Orlo software won’t change this.

Four companies tendered for the contract.

The Local Democracy Reporter Service asked Gwent Police, which has previously used a different social media management company, to comment but a response had not been received at the time of going to press.

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