Police chief forces staff to monitor his Wikipedia entry to stop users posting rude comments about him

Last updated at 23:34 29 February 2008

A chief constable has told his staff to monitor online encyclopedia Wikipedia - to stop its users posting rude comments about him.

Sir Norman Bettison took exception to being described as a "greedy, vain moron" on the online encyclopaedia, according to Police Review magazine.

The 52-year-old chief constable of West Yorkshire - favourite to succeed Sir Ian Blair as head of the Met - has ordered employees to check for changes often.

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Wikipedia entries can be edited by anyone with an internet connection.

This has led to West Yorkshire staff and other Wikipedia users becoming involved in an "edit war" - where two sides repeatedly change a page.

One Wikipedia user had inserted paragraphs, entitled "Controversy", which referred to a vote Sir Norman initiated to change police shift patterns.

This was removed by his staff, according to Police Review, and they added chunks from his official biography on the West Yorkshire force website.

However, Wikipedia frowns upon having information cut and pasted from other sites.

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Another user then deleted references to Sir Norman as "a pioneer of neighbourhood policing", saying the article had become nothing more than a "PR piece written by the chief".

A source at the force's headquarters said that Sir Norman ordered the monitoring after the entry was changed 100 times in the past few months.

"He called a meeting and said he was sick and tired of people changing his Wikipedia page.

"He insisted staff regularly log on to see if the entry has been changed - and make sure the words he wants are put back on as soon as possible."

Sir Norman joined the police at 16 and became chief of police in Merseyside in 1998.

He was part of the probe into the Hillsborough Stadium disaster and was knighted for services to policing in 2006.

Last year, he threatened legal action in an attempt to secure a £240,000 pay and pension settlement - at the same time that rank-and-file officers had their salaries cut by £200.

Because of the edit war, Wikipedia bosses have temporarily locked the page.

This means it cannot be changed by anyone except an administrator for a period of several days.

David Gerard, from the website, said: "Living biographies are one of our biggest ongoing problems.

"We are the eighth or ninth biggest website in the world, so when you Google someone's name, the first link that comes up is the Wikipedia entry.

"In the case of Sir Norman Bettison, there have been two sides battling it out to change the page."

Still, Sir Norman can take comfort from the fact he is not the site's most controversial personality - US President George Bush has had his page changed more than 40,000 times.

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