Council’s social media suspensions highest in country

More council employees were suspended in St Helens than in any other part of the UK in 2015 after being accused of breaking social media rules.

Seven people were suspended from St Helens Council, according to figures obtained via a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

Other councils responding to the FOI request, made by BBC Radio 5 Live, had suspended or dismissed one or two members of staff.

St Helens Council took action against several of the seven for offences involving Facebook, but details of the circumstances were not provided.

A spokesman for St Helens Council said: “We will not tolerate any form of social media misuse – and this is an issue taken very seriously by the council.

“We can confirm that seven employees were suspended during 2014 to 15, with several of these cases relating to the same incident.”

He added: “Only one of the cases involved the use of council equipment and none involved pornography.”

A separate FOI request, made by the St Helens Star, revealed that six St Helens Council employees were issued with disciplinary warnings over social media misuse in 2014, but none were dismissed.

The statistics relating to 2015 are not comprehensive because not all the councils included school staff in their replies, some councils based their numbers on the calendar year while others used the April-to-March financial year.

Furthermore, only 169 councils provided data with 49 refusing or not replying.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: “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 vast majority of council employees abide by that.”