London Fire Brigade's Richard Stokoe slams councils over social media use

The London Fire Brigade's head of comms has thrown down the gauntlet to the UK's local authorities to shape up their social media records.

Richard Stokoe: social media are a ‘crucial public safety tool’
Richard Stokoe: social media are a ‘crucial public safety tool’

Richard Stokoe told PRWeek councils were failing to respond to the call to improve online comms made after the riots last August, pointing to a report into councils’ use of social media in PRWeek.

Socitm’s review of councils’ use of social media revealed that Coventry City Council was the council with the highest number of followers, members and friends on Facebook and Twitter, with 24,080.

However, Stokoe pointed to his own body – officially classed as a local authority – having nearly 4,000 more followers, members and friends than Coventry and far more comments per week (234) on its Facebook offering than any other local authority.

Stokoe said: ‘The interim report by [chair of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel] Darra Singh into the English riots in August specifically singled out local authorities as failing to use or understand social media.

‘It is clear that despite these warnings there are many local authorities that have ignored this message. This isn’t a nice-to-have "add on" anymore. This is a crucial public safety and reassurance tool.’

Stokoe added that the public would be ‘put at risk’ by councils’ neglect of social media.

The Socitm report stated that up to 61 councils around the UK did not promote an active Twitter or Facebook site.

However, East Cambridgeshire District Council – one of the councils singled out – has since responded by stating that it does have a Twitter account and is set to launch a community website called ShapeYourPlace – East Cambridgeshire.

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