THIRTEEN police officers employed by the force covering Herefordshire have been investigated for their inappropriate use of social media.

One high ranking officer faced a grilling from bosses at West Mercia Police after disclosing information about work on a social networking site.

A police constable was given a written warning for accessing "inappropriate content" on a similar site, while a fellow constable was caught on a dating website.

Seven civilian staff members at West Mercia also faced action following breaches relating to the use of social media.

None of the 20 members of staff were dismissed for their actions.

The figures cover the period from January 2009 to February 2014 and were obtained following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Press Association.

West Mercia said in a statement its employees "are accountable for whatever they put into the public domain", and must not post anything likely to discredit the force, even from a private account.

"Social media has revolutionised the way people communicate and share information and provides both forces (West Mercia and its partner Warwickshire) with new and innovative ways of engaging with and involving people in policing," said the statement.

"To enable our workforce to effectively use social media both forces have a Social Media Communications Policy and set of guidelines which inform our officers, staff and volunteers how to use social media in both a personal and professional capacity.

"The basic principle is that all officers, staff and volunteers are accountable for whatever they put into the public domain, even in a privately held account and must not behave in a way which is likely to discredit their police force.

"All officers, staff and volunteers are reminded that any comments made on social media will be deemed to be in the public domain and seen potentially as official police comment.

"Any inappropriate comments are dealt with by internal misconduct procedures."