Report on riots highlights gaps in councils' comms

A report sparked by the riots across England last summer has called on public bodies to 'urgently' modernise their comms.

Chaos: The report says councils have 'lessons to learn' over the riots (Getty Images)
Chaos: The report says councils have 'lessons to learn' over the riots (Getty Images)

The Riots, Communities and Victims Panel was set up in the wake of the destruction that started in London last August and spread across the country.

The report states that a lack of support and opportunities for young people contributed to the riots, but also points to the need to 'improve the use of social media, both as a tool to gather and use information and to communicate messages to communities, businesses and individuals'.

Recommending the issue is addressed 'urgently', it adds that all local authorities involved with the report 'felt they had lessons to learn' in terms of keeping their PR up to date.

The report follows criticism in PRWeek last month by the London Fire Brigade's head of comms Richard Stokoe over councils' use of social media.

However, David Holdstock, chairman of LG Comms and soon-to-be Local Government Association comms chief, said that the riots revealed a number of examples of good use of social media by councils.

Pointing to Nottingham City Council, he said: 'It used Twitter and Facebook to provide up-to-date information to correct inaccurate rumours.

'We've got to accept that there's still much to learn and it needs to be part of an effective comms strategy more widely, but there are some good examples of best practice.'

The report also focused on the need to improve the police comms effort, with 'communicating about police action' being seen as 'equally important' as the 'action itself'. The police had not responded to the findings at the time of writing.

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