PSNI snaps show lighter side of the job
POLICE selfies with celebrities and other unusual photos of themselves on the beat are being shared on a PSNI internet service.
They include pictures of officers with golfer Rory McIlroy, Hollywood star Orlando Bloom and singer Ronan Keating.
Police are also snapped racing on go-karts and space hoppers, riding fairground amusements and tackling a mechanical bull while on duty at community events.
One unusual snap shows an origami bird a foreign national with broken English made using a police form while in custody.
Police have also shared numerous photos of animals including a puppy perched inside an officer's hat – and a 15ft python slithering across a policeman's neck.
A freedom of information request by The Irish News revealed the reams of pictures taken by officers while on duty.
The PSNI agreed to release the images but has obscured the identities of personnel and members of the public photographed.
However, it said the pictures were only ever intended for internal use and warned that publishing them "would cause damage to the levels of trust within our organisation".
The images were shared internally with captions in a weekly feature on the PSNI's intranet service called 'talking pictures'.
Officers and staff were encouraged to submit photos of themselves on duty in "fun or interesting" locations.
One officer is pictured with a fish net over his head.
Others pose with costumed characters including Spider-man, Scooby Doo and the Stig from BBC show Top Gear.
The photos emerged after the PSNI earlier this year said it was reviewing its social media policy.
It came after an MLA expressed concern that officers were "overindulging" online by posting pictures of toys and celebrity selfies on official PSNI social media pages.
An analysis by The Irish News in February revealed the PSNI spends more than eight hours a week updating its Facebook profiles.
Police insist their social media use has increased public confidence in policing and removed barriers to engagement, but some material posted online has been met with concern.
Meanwhile, the PSNI last month said it would review an incident where an officer was seen apparently posing for a photo in front of a loyalist paramilitary mural.
The PSNI said it trialled the 'talking pictures' feature for a number of months on its intranet service PoliceNet.
It said the feature used a "light-hearted approach" to help employee morale and was meant for an "internal audience only".
However, some of the photos have also been published without identities obscured on PSNI Facebook pages.
"These photos were submitted by officers and staff under the understanding that they would only be used internally. Therefore, publishing these photos externally would cause damage to the levels of trust within our organisation," the PSNI said in its freedom of information response.
"The Talking Pictures section let staff in all parts of the organisation catch a glimpse of work and community engagement underway in local policing teams."